Turn Your Used Lemons Into A Purée That Tastes Like Pure Sunshine

Lemons are a staple ingredient in the kitchen, used in a plethora of recipes to add freshness, brightness, acidity, or even just to serve as a garnish. From salad dressings and chicken dishes to desserts, you might not even realize how often these silent heroes come into play.

However, this frequent use often leads to waste. Typically, you're left with a squeezed-out rind that you don't know what to do with and end up discarding. But what if you could repurpose those into something truly special?

By now, we all understand that food waste isn't a good look, so it's important to consider ways to reuse the leftovers we generate while cooking. Time to add one more food waste hack to your repertoire: turning those used, juiced lemons into a lemon purée for your cooking and baking pleasure. Simply toss your lemons into a pot, simmer them until they soften, blend them up, and then they're ready to be incorporated into any recipe that could benefit from a fresh, tangy zing.

How to turn juiced lemons into a purée

The process starts with saving those squeezed-out rinds. Instead of throwing them away, stash them in the fridge or freeze your lemons for later use. When you're ready to make the purée, simmer the lemon pieces for around 30 minutes until they soften. After cooling, remove the inner pulp. Alternatively, you can roast the peels first if you prefer a richer, caramelized lemon flavor.

You'll be left with lemon shells that you can blend into a sweet or savory purée or paste. For a sweet version, blend the softened shells with sugar — about two tablespoons per lemon half should do the trick. You can add ingredients like maple syrup or vanilla extract for specific flavors, or simply stick to lemon and sugar to let the lemon's natural taste shine.

For a more savory purée, your options are abundant, depending on the flavor profile you desire. You can blend the peels with garlic, salt, herbs (such as rosemary, thyme, or curry leaves), or even chili peppers or spices like Aleppo pepper for a touch of heat. Just remember to add some oil to maintain a smooth consistency.

How to use your new lemon purée

Okay, you have your creamy, delicious lemony purée — now what? Blending those boiled-down lemon peels with a bit of added flavor gives you a paste that retains the brightness and flavor of lemons without that pungent, acidic bitterness. This makes it versatile for any recipe requiring a subtle zing.

You can use a sweet purée in a variety of desserts, including lemon cakes, curds, cheesecakes, and pies. You can also mix it into items like yogurt, hummus, or even mayonnaise for some added flavor and a hint of sweetness.

A savory purée works wonderfully in marinades, salad dressings, soups, sauces, and dips. You can use it as a substitute for lemon juice and lemon zest in recipes such as roasted chicken or pasta dishes, or even to create a compound butter. Incorporate it into a tuna salad, top some salmon with it, or drizzle it over roasted veggies.