Why You Should Always Have Lemon Paste In Your Pantry

In the most obvious way, lemons add a delicious lemony flavor to meals and while this is great, they can be used in dishes to do much more than this. On top of their many health benefits, chefs swear by using lemons in the kitchen to improve the texture and color of dishes, help with preventing oxidation, or balance fatty dishes. On their own, lemons are zesty, acidic, and sharp, but — surprisingly — they can round out any dish.

While in most places lemons are now available year round, lemons were initially preserved  — just as many other food items were — to be able to enjoy them when out of season, a common practice still today. Preserving lemons in salt traces back hundreds of years to North African (think Arab-Mediterranean) cuisine, but they are still used to add a depth of flavor to dishes that fresh lemons cannot reach on their own (via Belazu). Whether made with extracts from fresh or preserved lemons, lemon paste is about to become your new pantry staple. Here's why.

They add a bit of zest to everything

With a set honey-like consistency, lemon paste can be added to everything from cookies to marinades, from yogurt dips to cocktails. Strong in flavor and taste, a small amount goes a long way. If you're looking to add lemon paste to your pantry, making it at home isn't too difficult. Simply add thinly sliced lemons to a saucepan and then add some additional lemon juice and salt. Simmer it for 10 to 12 minutes or until the lemon peel begins to look translucent and then blend to the desired consistency. To sweeten it, add some honey or sugar before simmering (via Saucy Dressings).

Using preserved lemons to make your paste will bring additional umami flavor to the dish. This could be a reason why New York Shuk's preserved lemon paste is a popular choice. In addition, if you would rather buy a lemon paste, Neilsen-Massey sells one made from lemon oil.

Whether homemade or store-bought, we know lemon paste is about to become a go-to condiment in your kitchen. Use it to add a citrus flavor to cake frosting, bring a touch of brightness to salads, or mix it into marinades. Chef Lauren Joseph wrote that this condiment quickly became a staple for her, noted that it is super potent, easily melts into sauces and vinaigrettes, and is perfect for adding to drinks (via The Strategist). While lemons are already a must-have item in most kitchens, lemon paste is a different way to add that zesty flavor to pretty much anything!