After salt and pepper, there’s hardly an ingredient in the kitchen that we use more than lemon juice; its bracing acidity is an important component in cocktails, vinaigrettes and marinades, and there’s no seafood that can’t benefit from a squeeze of it.
There’s always the option of squeezing lemons by hand, but if you need their juice frequently, that task can be both messy and cumbersome. Below are three other inexpensive ways to juice a lemon.
Option #1: A Citrus Squeezer
These citrus juicers, which we like to call citrus squeezers to differentiate them from other juicers, are a favorite among bartenders. They work sort of like a garlic press: Put the citrus half in the well of the juicer cut-side down (yes, we agree that it’s a bit counter-intuitive!), then squeeze the two levers together. The domed part of the juicer flips the citrus inside out, squeezing out juice. Thanks to holes in the juicer wall, juice comes out but seeds and pulp stay nicely trapped inside.
Pros: Since it does a pretty great job of catching both the pulp and seeds, using a citrus squeezer is a clean and tidy task.
Cons: Squeezers are typically designed for specific citrus fruits like lemons, limes and oranges, so if you tend to juice lots of different types of citrus, you might wind up needing three different kinds of juice squeezers in your tool drawer.
Buy it: Williams-Sonoma Open Kitchen Lemon Press ($13)
Option #2: A Handheld Citrus Reamer
Handheld citrus or lemon reamers have a spiked conical blade on one end and a cylindrical handle on the other. To use it, hold the reamer in one hand and half a cut lemon in the other, using the spiked reamer to pierce the flesh of the fruit, and twisting with your wrist until all the juice has been extracted.
Pros: Handheld reamers are compact, so they don’t take up too much drawer space, and ideal for someone on a budget.
Cons: You’ll need plenty of elbow grease—expect lots of twisting and pressing—so if you’re aiming to extract a lot of juice, this may not be the method for you. Also, you’ll need a separate strainer to remove seeds and pulp.
Buy it: Wood Lemon Reamer ($9)
Option #3: An All-in-One Citrus Juicer
This type of juicer, sometimes called an all-in-one juicer, works similarly to a handheld citrus reamer, except it includes a built-in strainer for seeds and pulp, as well as a cup to catch the juice.
Pros: Because of the way it’s shaped, you can easily put your weight into the juicer when pushing down on the citrus half, which makes juicing slightly less difficult (and is useful when you need a larger quantity of lemon juice). We also love the fact that it contains a built-in strainer over a juice receptacle, so you can use your lemon juice right away.
Cons: This method can take slightly longer than the other juicing methods detailed above.
Buy it: Williams-Sonoma Open Kitchen Stainless-Steel Juicer ($25)