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Jun 27, 2008 06:59 PM

Substitute for fresh lemon juice?

My wife likes several mixed drinks which call for lemon juice but the lemons we have in our grocery stores seem pretty sorry this year. Didn't want to default to RealLemon juice without checking around first. Are there any good bottled lemon juices out there suitable for making mixed drinks? I was wondering if any of you use frozen lemonade concentrate or if I could try a good sour mix.

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  1. I think it really depends on the drink.

    1 Reply
    1. IMHO, there is no substitute, but fresh-squeezed and deep-frozen lemon juice is a staple in my house. I go to the local produce vendor and buy lemons in bulk - maybe three or four dozen at a time. With a grater, I remove the zest from about two dozen and deep freeze it in a jar. This is usually enough for a year's worth of pastry shells, marinades and sauces without have to zest every time. I then hook up the juicing attachment to the KitchenAid mixer and juice them. I make lemonade mix (1 cup lemon juice and 1 cup sugar - later added to 4 to 5 cups ice water) and freeze them in Food Saver bags for quick lemonade all summer. I also use ice cube trays to make two or three dozen frozen cubes of lemon juice (1 cube = about 2+ Tbs.) and then keep the cubes in a ZipLoc bag in a sealed plastic container in the deep freeze.

      For about 45 minutes of work, you can have fresh lemon juice, lemon zest and lemonade mix for a year. But deep freezing ( -15 or below) is recommended.

      Also, IMHO, RealLemon is an abomination for which the term "reconstituted" was coined and solely applies. Have you heard the term used anywhere else?

      1. No substitute. The problem with lemon juice sitting out there (like OJ in a carton as well) is that it reacts all too quickly with oxygen and the flavor becomes highly acid and far less lemony (or orange-y). What other citrus do you have access to>?

        1 Reply
        1. re: Icantread

          >> What other citrus do you have access to>?

          The usual run of the mill stuff...oranges, limes, grapefruit. But it seems like our stores just aren't carrying any citrus that looks good.... especially grapefruit, althopugh we don't use 'em for drinks.

        2. i think everyone is on the right track ...lemonade probably not the best substitute in most cases. Maybe the lemons are rough on the outside but juicey???? just hoping.

          4 Replies
          1. re: coastie

            there is an organic brand that is sold in a bottle (looks like a snapple bottle) that isn't bad in a pinch.

            1. re: Produce Addict

              i think you are thinking of santa cruz organics. they do offer a bottle of organic lemon (or lime) juice at a reasonable price, and it's far superior to real lemon, and also better (imo) than the nellie & joes lemon juice.

              still, there really is no substitute for real fresh citrus in a drink.

              1. re: andytee


                i've used the lime juice in margaritas and the lemon juice for side cars. they're really quite good. they're both available at whole foods in my area (new york). one cinco de mayo a few years ago i attempted to squeeze 40 limes by hand. my palm was bruised for a week.

            2. re: coastie

              The lemons I'm seeing lately (Western Maryland) are small, not yirelding much juice, and some are brown. These are the bagged ones. Single lemons are going for around a buck apiece.

              Maybe I ought to plant one of those Meyer Lemon dwarf trees in a pot : )

            3. Nellie's & Joe's of Key West is known for their lime juice, but if you look real hard you can find their lemon juice. Better than real lemons imo.


              5 Replies
              1. re: carey24

                I'm having a big cocktail party coming up and am making somewhere between 30-40 Tom Collins cocktails...calls for LOTS of fresh lemon juice. I don't have the time or energy to squeeze all those lemons! Do you think the Nellie's and Joe's lemon juice would work in the cocktail okay. I'm looking at needing 30-40 oz of juice...that's a lot of squeezing! I'm making the cocktail by the ready to go lemon juice would be a BIG help.

                1. re: rowjo

                  20-25 big juicy lemons - not really that much work and your guests will appreciate it.

                  1. re: rowjo

                    It's really easy to squeeze lots of lemons if you have the right equipment to do so. I use a lemon squeezer similar to the one linked below. Once halved, using one of these things you should be able to squeeze on the order of 2-3 lemons per minute (buy a few extra so that you don't have to concentrate on getting every last drop, and it will be even quicker).


                    1. re: davis_sq_pro

                      That squeezer works great. Bed Bath and Beyond sells them and also has a model that works with both lemons and limes, although I don't know theres that much difference...

                      1. re: Jimmy Buffet

                        I have a yellow one, and it has squeezed probably three times as many limes as lemons (I tend to use a lot more limes in both drinks and cooking). So no reason to spring for two, or any kind of double-duty model.

                        One trick I've found is to cut a bit off of the end off of the lemon or lime before squeezing. This flattens it out and makes it easier for the bulb on the squeezer to apply even pressure to the fruit.