A Magazine about the Hudson Valley’s local economy, published by Hudson Valley Current.

When Life Hands You Lemons

When life hands you lemons
You can make a lot more than just lemonade
There are so many wonderful and economical uses for lemons besides summertime’s favorite beverage—from household cleaners and garden weed killers to beauty products and healthy remedies. Since antiquity, scholars have known the wonders of the citric acid contained in the sunny bright lemon.

For a Fragrant Home:

• Consider throwing a few lemon peels in to the flames of a fireplace fire on a cold night for a cozy and aromatic winter night.

• Freshen and moisturize the air on dry winter days by making your own room scent, which doubles as a humidifier. For a wood-burning stove, place a enameled cast iron pot filled with water and lemon peels, cloves, and cinnamon sticks on the stove top. Voila…a simmering humidifier that smells delightful. No wood-burning stove? Do the same on your stovetop and simmer the water.

• Neutralize cat-box odor or freshen bathroom odors by cutting a couple of lemons in half and placing them, cut-side up, in a pretty little dish in the room. Makes the air have a lemony-fresh smell.

• To salvage a smelly sponge, saturate it with lemon juice and rinse thoroughly.

• Grind up lemon peels and put in a dish or plastic bag with holes to keep your own cats off countertops and furniture.

• Deodorize your humidifier when it starts to smell funky by pouring three or four teaspoons lemon juice into the water. Repeat every couple of weeks to keep the odor from returning.

• Before vacuuming, put a few drops of lemon juice in the dust bag. It will make the house smell fresh.

• Deodorize your garbage disposal by saving leftover lemon and orange peels and toss them down the drain. Repeat once every month.

• Freshen up and sanitize your plastic cutting boards after chopping up onions, crushing garlic, cutting raw and cooked meats and fish. Just cut a lemon in half and rub the cut side over the surface. Or, wash it in undiluted bottled lemon juice.

• For wooden cutting boards or butcher blocks, sprinkle coarse salt onto the board and scrub it with the fleshy side of half a lemon. It’ll get into all the nooks and crannies and deodorize as well as disinfect, as lemon juice is a natural sanitizer. It also works on wooden rolling pins and bowls. Rinsing is not necessary as wood will absorb the juice and work effectively.

• Remove refrigerator odors by dabbing lemon juice on a cotton ball or sponge and leave it in a dish in the fridge for several hours.

For Household Stains:

• Brighten dull aluminum pots and pans and give them inside and outside sparkle. Just rub the cut side of half a lemon all over and buff with a soft cloth.

• Clean tarnished brass, copper, or stainless steel by making a paste of lemon juice and salt (or substitute baking soda or cream of tartar for the salt) and coat the affected area. Leave on for five minutes, then wash in warm water, rinse, and polish dry. The same mixture also cleans metal kitchen sinks also. Just apply the paste, scrub gently, and rinse.

• For rust removal, mix one tablespoon of lemon juice with two tablespoons of salt and scrub on affected area.

• Marble is typically thought of as stone, but it’s actually petrified calcium (old seashells), which is extremely porous and easily stained and damaged. If regular washing doesn’t work for stubborn stains on marble, cut a lemon in half and dip the exposed flesh into table salt and rub the stain vigorously. However, only do this as a last resort as acid can damage marble. Make sure to rinse well.

• Get rid of mineral deposits and polish tarnished chrome faucets and small appliances by rubbing a lemon rind over the chrome for a sparkling shine! Rinse well and dry with a soft cloth.

• Clean discolored utensils with a cloth dipped in lemon juice. Rinse with warm water.

• Dull chinaware can return to its original luster with a gentle scouring of one part lemon juice and two parts salt. Rinse and enjoy the glistening.

• Scrub-a-dub a porcelain tub or sink to get rid of rust, soap, mineral and water stains by using the fleshy side of a cut lemon dipped in coarse salt for a natural scouring pad that contains no harsh chemicals to harm the environment. Repeat for stubborn rust stains. This also works great against mold build-up.

• Whiten and brighten white linens and clothing by soaking them for 30 minutes in a vat of water with a 50-50 ratio of lemon juice and baking soda before regular laundering. For bad stains, give each your attention by scrubbing them with a lemon wedge before washing. This is especially useful on delicate fabrics where ordinary chlorine bleach can cause iron to precipitate out of water and cause additional stains.

• Another way to lighten or get rid of stains on whites is to rub lemon juice on the affected area and lie on a clean patch of grass overnight. The combination of the dew and sunlight is not just an old-wives-tale. It works…provided no animals decide to trample over the cloth.

• Get darkened white cotton socks bright again by boiling them in water with a slice of lemon.

For the Chef:

• Prevent potatoes and cauliflower from turning brown when boiling by squeezing a teaspoon of fresh lemon juice into the cooking water.

• To keep your rice from sticking together in a gloppy mass, add a spoonful of lemon juice to the boiling water when cooking. Let cool and fluff.

• Keep your prepared guacamole green and fresh for when it’s being served by sprinkling a liberal amount of lemon juice over it. The lemon juice is a natural preservative and allows you to prepare the dip ahead of time.

• The same goes for preparing fruit salads in advance. Just squeeze some lemon onto any white fruits, such as apples to keep them snowy white.

• With the help of a little lemon juice you can toss soggy lettuce into a salad rather than into the garbage. Just add the juice of half a lemon to a bowl of cold water and add the soggy lettuce; then refrigerate for one hour and it will become crisp. Completely dry the leaves before putting into salads or sandwiches.

For Household Cleansers:

• Rid your microwave of caked-on bits of hardened food without scratching the surface with harsh cleansers or using tons of elbow grease by mixing three tablespoons lemon juice and 1 1/2 cups water in a microwave-safe bowl. Heat on high for five to ten minutes, allowing the steam to condense on the inside walls and ceiling of the oven, then easily wipe away the softened food with a dishrag.

• After washing the interior of an oven or fridge remove remaining soap film by putting fresh lemon juice in the rinse water.

• A mixture of lemon juice and salt gets rid of grease build-up on pans, stovetops and countertops.

• Dishwashers don’t always get caked-on particles off cheese graters. So, slice a lemon in half and use the fleshy side to give the grater a good scrub. This softens the cheese particles, cleanses, disinfects, and all you have to do is rinse with water.