6 Easy Ways to Squeeze Fresh Citrus Juice

How to Juice a Lemon or Lime


S&C Design Studios

Many of us can agree that fresh juice makes the best drinks. Citrus fruits like lemons, limes, and oranges are the most often used fruits in drinks. It is only logical, then, that we use fresh citrus whenever we can. The great news is that these are the easiest fruits to juice.

There is a number of different ways you can get fresh juice from a citrus fruit and it takes just a few minutes. Most of the techniques require a tool, though the majority of those are inexpensive and store neatly in the bar or kitchen drawer.

3 Tips for Maximizing Citrus Juice Yields

Before we look at the options for juicing, there are a few things you can do to get the most juice from citrus:

  1. Warm It - Allowing citrus to reach room temperature before juicing will significantly increase the juice yield. If you refrigerate fruit, set it out for at least thirty minutes. For a quick warm up, pop fruit in the microwave for 10 to 15 seconds.
  2. Roll It - Before cutting the fruit, roll it under the palm of your hand while pressing firmly downward on the counter top. 
  3. Cut It - In almost every instance, you will simply need to cut the fruit in half. The only exception is when you need a "squeeze" of juice. In this case, a wedge works best.

How Much Juice Is in Citrus Fruit?

Every piece of fruit holds a different amount of juice and factors such as size, growing environment, and the variety of the fruit will impact how much juice citrus will hold.

On average you can expect to get:

  • 1 grapefruit = 3/4 cup or 5 to 6 ounces
  • 1 orange = 1/4 cup or 2 to 3 ounces
  • 1 lemon = 3 tablespoons or 1 3/4 ounce
  • 1 lime = 1 tablespoon or 1/2 to 1 ounce

Storing Your Citrus Juice

While it is often recommended to use citrus juice immediately, it can be stored in the refrigerator when needed.

  • Choose glass containers with tight-sealing lids. Plastic does break down and is never a good idea for long-term or reusable storage of any fresh mixer.
  • Most citrus juice can be stored for a few weeks, though you will find it best if used within a few days.

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Wash Your Hands and Avoid Sunburn

The acids of citrus juices can irritate your skin. If your hands have cuts or rough skin, it is best to wash your hands often during and after juicing. If you're very sensitive, you might even think about wearing gloves.

This is especially important when you're in the sun. If citrus juice remains on your skin and you're exposed to direct sunlight, you can get a most severe sunburn and it's not a laughing matter. It's actually called phytophotodermatitis or "margarita dermatitis" because it's often associated with making Margaritas with lime juice in summer.

If you're mixing drinks outside or go outside after mixing, wash your hands. You will avoid a lot of pain.

A Splash of Fresh Citrus Juice? Just Squeeze It!

Squeeze fresh juice from citrus fruits.
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Many drink recipes call for a splash, squeeze, or squirt of fresh juice. This accent is most often used for lemons and limes. This is the easiest fresh juice technique and it requires no tools other than a knife.

To Squeeze Citrus by Hand

  1. Cut the fruit into wedges (save some for the garnish as well).
  2. Hold the wedge over the glass or cocktail shaker between your thumb and fingers.
  3. Squeeze to release all of the juice from the fruit. You may also want to use your other hand as a shield so juice doesn't accidentally squirt into your face.

The Splash in Cocktails

For drinks like the Gin & Tonic, the wedge is often used as a garnish. This is convenient because the drinker can opt to squeeze as much juice as they like. Other cocktails, like The Showstopper and Patron Pineapple, add a splash while mixing the drink.

The Bartender's Favorite: A Hand Squeezer for Juicing Citrus

Hand presses work great for adding fresh lemon and lime juices to cocktails.
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A citrus squeezer (or press) is a hand tool that uses the force of your muscles to gently squeeze the fresh juices from lemons and limes. This is a favorite tool among bartenders.

Use this juicer for recipes that call for "juice of 1/2 a lime" or those with small measurements for juice. This is the perfect option for mixing single drinks as well.

The advantage of this juicer is that the seeds stay in the press and the juice is typically pulp-free.

An Inexpensive Juicing Option

This style of citrus juicer can often be found for around $20 to $40 and it comes in two sizes. The smaller of the two will work specifically for limes while the larger one is best for both lemons and limes. On occasion, you can find one for oranges and larger citrus.

It's also recommended to buy one that is made of stainless steel as these will last a long time. The handles of inexpensive plastic juicers can snap under normal force.

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To Juice Citrus with a Squeezer

  1. Cut the fruit in half.
  2. Place one half in the press so that the peel rests naturally in the curve of the press.
  3. Close the juicer and, using both hands, gently squeeze the two pieces together until the fruit releases all of its juice.

The juicer can be used to squeeze juice directly into a drink, into the cocktail shaker, or (if you are very careful) into a jigger so that you can measure the juice.

Again, be careful not to let juice squirt into your face (particularly your eyes).

The Old-Fashioned Reamer for Juicing Citrus

Use a citrus reamer to get fresh juice from fruits.
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This funky looking gadget is a citrus reamer and it is another option for juicing. It is not used often in the bar because it often requires you to strain the seeds and pulp. It's also rather messy in comparison to the squeezer. However, it is cheap and if it is all you have, it does the trick.

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To Juice Citrus with a Reamer

  1. Cut the fruit in half.
  2. Hold one half in the palm of your hand, pulp facing out and at about a 45-degree angle.
  3. Press the reamer into the pulp and twist to pulverize the pulp and allow the juices to run into a bowl or glass.
  4. Before mixing drinks, strain the juice using a fine mesh strainer to remove any stray seeds and most of the excess pulp.

The Cheapest Juicer for Bulk Citrus Juices

How to Juice a Lemon or Lime
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Another old-fashioned juicer, this is a great way to get a lot of fresh citrus juice on the cheap. These juicers are also small enough to fit in a drawer and they do an amazing job at getting the most juice out of fruit.

Use this juicer when making large quantities of juice for storage, stocking up for a party, or making a pitcher of fresh lemonade.

Choose Your Juicer Style

This style of juicer comes in a few forms. They typically come in one size that will fit lemons, limes, oranges, and smaller grapefruit.

The glass juicer is a classic and it takes up very little space. The tray holds just enough juice so you only have to dump once per half a fruit, and it cleans up very easily.

These are very common to find second-hand and some of the vintage juicers have great style. To ensure a seed and pulp-free juice, a fine mesh strainer may be required.

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The other option is often made of stainless steel and has holes in the bottom of the tray so seed- and pulp-free juice falls directly into the (often) included bowl. These are nice and very convenient as well.

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To Juice Citrus with a Manual Juicer

  1. Cut the fruit in half.
  2. Place one half, pulp side down, onto the reamer.
  3. Press firmly and rotate the fruit on the reamer until all of the juice is released.
  4. Strain if needed.

Need A Lot of Citrus Juice? Get a Press

For those who juice a lot of citrus, the old-fashioned press juicer is a great option.
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If you are serious about juicing citrus, then this style of citrus press would be a good investment. It is larger than the previous options and does cost more. A decent one can still be found for under $100. Do keep in mind that this requires manual force, so you will get what you pay for and it is best to choose a well-built press.

With this counter top style of citrus juicer you can squeeze a lot of fruit in very little time. It is a perfect option if you have space in the kitchen, love fresh citrus juice, and want a good workout at the same time.

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To Juice Citrus with a Press

  1. Cut fruit in half.
  2. Place one half on the reamer, pulp side down.
  3. Grab the arm and forcefully pull the handle down until all of the juice is released.

In most instances, this press will produce a relatively pulp- and seed-free juice, though a strainer may be needed.

Go Electric and Juice it Up!

Juicing citrus fruits with an electric juicer.
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The final option for getting juice out of citrus fruit is, arguably, the easiest. It's supposed to be easy, anyway. Some people love these and others find the old-fashioned juicers easier.

Your Electric Juicer Options

There are many electric juicers available. A number of them are either dedicated to citrus or include an attachment for juicing citrus. The design of either option is essentially the same as any other citrus juicer, though the reamer is rotated or vibrated by an electric motor.

There are advantages and disadvantages to using an electric juicer for citrus fruits and it is more of a personal choice.

If you are looking for a versatile juicer that will juice a variety of fruits and vegetables as well as citrus, this may be a good option. Also, if any physical disabilities prohibit you from using a manual option, this would be your best choice.

The Drawbacks to Electric Juicers

I have an electric juicer and love it for everything other than citrus fruits. My model has a citrus attachment and I have found that I cannot get the same yield from it as I can from any of the other tools mentioned. It is simply easier for me to maximize my juice by using a manual juicer.

The other disadvantages that come with an electric juicer are the cost and space that they require. Also, there is the noise, though if you don't mind another whirling motor in the kitchen, this may not bother you.