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citron cooks seeds

Citron cooks seeds

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Citron cooks seeds

A lemony vinaigrette is one of our favorite ways to dress a salad, but don't be afraid to add a little apple cider, rice, or white wine vinegars to the mix. The sweeter vinegar flavors will help balance the ultra-tart citrus. Same rules apply in other applications, like marinades. A combination of vinegar and citrus can take a dish to another level, provided it doesn't "clash" (Apple cider vinegar and grapefruit? Not so much).

A double hit of citrus (lemon and grapefruit) adds brightness to Salt-Baked Salmon. Photo: Christopher Testani

A rasp grater (the most commonly found brand is Microplane) makes quick, fine work out of citrus zest, but it's not the only tool for the job. Roman likes to use a paring knife to cut long strips of the peel (leaving behind the bitter white pith), and then chops the strips with a chef's knife as finely or coarsely as she needs. Of course, you could always master the art of the lemon twist, for all your martini-related needs.

We love the bright, cheery notes that citrus brings to our cooking. But creating lemon, lime, orange, grapefruit, or tangerine perfection takes more than just squeezing bottled juice into a sauce (you knew that, right?). Here are the most common mistakes home cooks make when cooking with citrus, according to our Test Kitchen. Read on and never screw up your lemon meringue, lime pie, or roasted citrus salad (really!) again.

Lemon zest is great. So is lemon juice. Quit making things hard on yourself, and use the whole fruit for a big impact. If you've been zesting and juicing separately for years, here are some great ways to go whole-fruit: Add a few slices of lime, grapefruit, or orange to baked fish, stuff a whole chicken with a halved lemon, or roast any type of citrus for a mellow-sweet flavor, as in this Roasted Citrus and Avocado Salad. Senior food editor Alison Roman warns: Just be sure to poke out and discard the seeds. Not only are they no fun to crunch down on (ouch), they impart a bitter flavor.

Fresh, just-squeezed lemon or lime juice does wonders for a pan sauce. But if you've ever added it to a sauce too early, you know how funky it tastes when it cooks. Avoid discoloration and a bitter flavor by only adding the juice after you remove the sauce (or stew, or soup, or whatever) from the heat.

A squeeze of fresh citrus into a cream-based sauce will lighten things up, but squeeze in too much and the dairy will curdle. After all, adding an acidic element to milk is how cheese gets made. "You don't want to make cheese (all the time)," says Roman. If you do want to make cheese, however, we suggest this ludicrously creamy fresh ricotta.

Zesting a whole mess of citrus can be a lot of work, but don't be tempted to do it in advance. The longer grated peel sits out, the drier, less fragrant, and less flavorful it will become, as the oils release into the air. You'll get free potpourri, but less tasty zest.