Freezing Lemons and Limes

This past weekend, I had a farewell party for friends who were moving across the country. Although I tried to make things perfect, I forgot to buy lemons and limes to garnish pre-dinner drinks and to provide an acidic balance to my Indian dinner. However, when a guest asked for a lemon wedge, I remembered that I had both fruits in the freezer. A quick 20-second turn in the microwave, and the fruit cut easily and tasted as flavorful as if fresh.

Lemons and limes are readily available, but they can be pricey off-season. Besides thrift and convenience, the advantage of frozen fruit is that it still retains moisture and nutritional benefits. Citrus packs a solid vitamin C punch, and the juice is often used in home remedies. I freeze the fruit whole (grating the rinds to add as aromatic seasonings) and as cut wedges (adding them to cold and hot drinks). I liberally use lime juice in my favorite summer dish, Lime Rice, but I have lately taken to substituting cauliflower to make a less starchy version.

Lime “Rice” (with cauliflower)

Cauliflower Rice – 2 cups

Oil – 3 tbsp

Mustard seeds – ½ tsp

Cumin seeds – ½ tsp

Lentils (red or green) – ½ tbsp

Whole, dried red chili – 2-3

Asafetida powder – ¼ tsp

Turmeric powder – ¼ tsp

Salt – to taste

Lime –1, juice

Curry leaves – 2-3 stalks

Cashew nuts or peanuts – ½ cup, dry roasted

 

  • Heat the oil in a wok or pan.
  • Add the mustard seeds to the hot oil.
  • As soon as mustard seeds start to pop, add the cumin seeds and lentils.
  • Once the cumin seeds start to sizzle, add the chilies, asafetida powder and turmeric powder.
  • Add the curry leaves and stir for a few seconds.
  • Add the cauliflower “rice” to the pan. Lower the flame and sprinkle a tablespoon of salted water. Cover and let the cauliflower cook in the steam, about 3-4 minutes.
  • Remove the pan from the stove.
  • Add lime juice and salt, adjusting their balance according to your taste.
  • Garnish with cashew nuts or peanuts.

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