If you were to take a stroll through our store – or even through the website – you’ll find things you’ve never seen (or heard of) before. These are the hard-to-find kitchen tools and gadgets that make working in your kitchen fun, interesting, and, in some cases, a whole lot easier. Each month this year I’ll select a food theme and a related unusual kitchen tool to talk about. I’ll share information like the tool’s history (if available), material composition, and purpose. Some, but not all, of the items I’ll discuss are on my website, in which case I’ll provide a link so you get an image. I hope you’ll find this information informative and useful.
Since this is the ‘season of citrus’ I thought we’d begin the year with some of the best tools to access the pulp and juice from the fruit. The first is the somewhat ordinary Citrus Reamer. It wasn’t until I started getting lemons from my two cedro lemon trees that I had a new-found respect for the citrus reamer. Cedro lemons are huge and hard to handle (some are larger than baseballs!). The peel is quite thick, and the pulp is very tight. The citrus reamer is the only tool I’ve found to be effective in getting the pulp to release the juice in these monsters. Each section of the fruit has to be reamed, one at a time. The job is much easier after about the third section, and almost every drop is extracted.
Another great juice extraction tool is the Westmark Citrus Juicer. This juice press is for regular-sized citrus, not something as unwieldy as the Cedro lemon, and is designed to release every drop of juice from the fruit. With the halved fruit in place, close the press and apply pressure. To get all the juice, I often press down with upper body weight. The extraction process begins in the center of the fruit. Adjust the fruit in the press and apply pressure again to release the juice from the vitamin-rich layers toward the outside of the fruit (just underneath the peel). The Westmark Fruit Press works well for oranges, lemons, and limes – not so much for grapefruit.
One of the most overlooked parts of citrus is the rind, which in itself has nutritional benefits. Most often, citrus rind is used to amp up the flavor intensity of anything from salad dressings to cheesecakes. Rind needs to be “zested” carefully so that just the outer peel is removed and not the bitter white pith, which will detract from the flavor of the zest. Any kitchen tool that has a very fine grating surface – that is, a surface that is fine enough to grate garlic, hard cheese, or a whole nutmeg – is also good for zesting citrus. There’s no need to buy a second tool exclusively for citrus. A good grating tool for all of these items is the stainless steel grater from Ilsa.
Remember to wash your citrus with soap and water and rinse well before use. Otherwise, pesticides can enter the fruit when it’s sliced with a knife. Washing the fruit before zesting the peel is also a good ideal.
Finally, since we’re talking about all things citrus, I need to mention a beautiful, mildly citrusy confection we recently started carrying: our Limoncello Bites. If a marzipan-white chocolate pairing coated with lemon juice and coarse sea salt combination appeals to you, this may be your new favorite candy. Good eats, friends!