Puréeing Lemon Peels Makes For A Sweet, No-Waste Paste

Lemons are a real kitchen workhorse. Their juice can wake up flavors in any dish that lacks acidity, and their zest adds a citrusy zing to everything from blueberry muffins to grilled fish. Thrifty cooks know that sometimes it's hard to balance things out in the kitchen when making the most of ingredients and the least of waste — where you're sometimes left with a single egg white in the freezer because the recipe you were making called for one yolk. But if you happen to have a frozen store of lemon rinds you rescued after juicing a bunch of lemons, your lemon solution is here, and it's delicious.

When you use up a bunch of lemons to make fresh juice, save the juiced lemon halves either in the refrigerator if you're going to get to them in short order or in the freezer if you only have one or two. Once you've amassed half a dozen lemon halves — or more if you have space in your saucepan — get ready to make the lemon paste you had no idea you needed.

What the heck is lemon paste?

All you need to do to transform those spent lemon halves into a versatile paste is simmer them for about half an hour in a saucepan covered with water, let them cool, then scoop out the pulp and pith, leaving behind the rind. Then, simply pop those lemon shells into the food processor or blender and whizz them up, and presto, there's your lemon paste. You can store it in the refrigerator for weeks, and it'll add a dose of lemony goodness to all sorts of dishes.

You can also create both sweet and savory versions by throwing a couple of additional ingredients into the mix. Sweet lemon paste can incorporate sugar, vanilla, and even a drop or two of your favorite cordial like Gran Marnier or limoncello, and it's a fragrant addition to baked goods of any kind.

A savory twist could find fiery red pepper flakes, poblano or jalapeño peppers, olive oil, and even fresh herbs among the ingredients that will add lift and flavor to both side dishes and mains. Lemon purée is a vibrant addition to compound butter, which marries beautifully with seafood of any kind. Creating your own lemon paste accomplishes the twin goals of: using up practically the entire lemon, and getting a quick and easy ingredient that can boost the flavor of just about anything you cook.