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Juice of 1 Lemon, Juice of Half a Lime...


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#1 CincyCraig

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Posted 24 May 2009 - 09:54 PM

Like many of you, I have been making cocktails from The Savoy, Old Waldorf, Bon Vivant and many other classic cocktail books for many years. And, I'll bet, like may of you I have at times been vexed by the rather nondescript measurements used in many of the classic cocktail books. It wasn't until I read Dave Wondrich's Imbibe that I finally had a understanding of most of the measurements used in those books. However, there is still one area where the older books still cause some confusion for me: citrus.

Many of the older recipes call for using "The juice of one lemon" or "the juice of half a lime", and so on. I wonder how the size of lemons, limes & oranges in the late 19th & early 20th century differs from the size of today's fruit, and how much juice that the different fruits produce? How much juice is in a half a lemon, lime, etc?? When I go to the grocery today, I find lemons the size baseballs, and limes that are nearly as big. you didn't see citrus that large just 15 or 20 years ago, so I can only imagine how large (or small) citrus must have been 100 years ago. I think that it's a good bet that, like many items (eggs, chickens, apples etc), citrus is much bigger today than in the past.

I would appreciate any insight into how to standardize juice measurements (half, whole, etc) as used in the classic cocktail books. Has anyone else ever considered this topic, or have I just become a completely OCD cocktail geek?

Cheers,

Craig in Cincinnati

Edited by CincyCraig, 24 May 2009 - 10:33 PM.

During lunch with the Arab leader Ibn Saud, when he heard that the king’s religion forbade smoking and alcohol, Winston Churchill said: "I must point out that my rule of life prescribed as an absolutely sacred rite the smoking of cigars and also the drinking of alcohol before, after, and if need be during all meals and in the intervals between them." Ibn Saud relented and the lunch went on with both alcohol & cigars.

#2 prasantrin

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Posted 24 May 2009 - 10:53 PM

I can't answer as to the size of fruits past and present, but for conversions, Gourmet Sleuth's conversion calculator is pretty good about converting size (ex. half a tomato, juice of one lemon) to volume or weight measurements.

#3 Chris Amirault

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Posted 25 May 2009 - 06:15 AM

There's an additional problem: interobject variability. I juiced two limes, identical from the outside, yesterday: one gave a scant ounce and the other gave three. This is why god made little red tasting straws.

And don't worry: plenty of OCD cocktail geeks around. Lean on me.
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#4 thirtyoneknots

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Posted 25 May 2009 - 09:35 AM

Yeah, you are not alone...the mystery deepens when people like Charles Baker (and lots of others) say that the recipe can use half a lemon or a whole lime...this leads me to wonder if something like a Key Lime is what is being discussed. If that is what is meant by a lime in prewar mixology then it has huge implications in all types of drinks, from Daiquiris to Don the Beachcomber.
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#5 tim

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Posted 25 May 2009 - 10:18 AM

Hi,

I always liked the instruction, "a tablespoon of juice from one lemon." Would it be cheating to use more than one lemon?

Tim

#6 Alchemist

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Posted 25 May 2009 - 11:04 AM

There's an additional problem: interobject variability. I juiced two limes, identical from the outside, yesterday: one gave a scant ounce and the other gave three. This is why god made little red tasting straws.

And don't worry: plenty of OCD cocktail geeks around. Lean on me.

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Red tasting straws? Really? I must taste off white or black as any color imparts too much flavor.

These days we get 1 oz from a lime and 2 oz from a lemon.

I find the yield of citrus has almost as much to do with the temp of the lemon/lime as the size. As the fridges back then were not as cold as they are now, that also might have something to do with the measure of juice.

Toby



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#7 thirtyoneknots

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Posted 25 May 2009 - 11:10 AM

There's an additional problem: interobject variability. I juiced two limes, identical from the outside, yesterday: one gave a scant ounce and the other gave three. This is why god made little red tasting straws.

And don't worry: plenty of OCD cocktail geeks around. Lean on me.

View Post


Red tasting straws? Really? I must taste off white or black as any color imparts too much flavor.

These days we get 1 oz from a lime and 2 oz from a lemon.

I find the yield of citrus has almost as much to do with the temp of the lemon/lime as the size. As the fridges back then were not as cold as they are now, that also might have something to do with the measure of juice.

Toby

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Or if the stuff was even refrigerated at the establishment...most grocery stores don't refrigerate citrus, and while we do at work I rarely do at home.

Agreed tho about temp, when getting ready to juice I fill at tub with the fruit then fill it with hot water from the spout and let it soak while doing other stuff...50% more juice, at least
Andy Arrington

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#8 KatieLoeb

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Posted 25 May 2009 - 11:26 AM

Just went through this exercise in attempting to cost out fresh squeezed juice for the bar.

24 limes from a case of 60 count limes (approx 1.75" in diameter) produces about 3 cups or 24 oz. of juice. In fact, with very minor variation, it was an ounce of juice per lime.

FWIW.

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#9 jsmeeker

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Posted 25 May 2009 - 11:52 AM

In my experience with juicing limes at home, I tend to get about an ounce of juice per lime. But like Chris has experienced, sometimes you get ones that just come up really dry. Bought at the same time from the same bin at the store. They appear the same on the outside. Same weight. Stored the same. It's just the way it goes.

For storage, I tend to store limes and lemons at room temp. Occasionally, I'll put some in the fridge. Maybe if I buy more than I need for something, in hopes that last a bit longer.

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#10 slkinsey

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Posted 25 May 2009 - 12:14 PM

I would say that the "standard" amount that seems to work well for recipes that specify an amount of citrus fruit rather than an amount of citrus juice is that one lime has three-quarter to one ounce of lime juice and one lemon has an ounce and a half to two ounces of lemon juice.
Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

#11 CincyCraig

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Posted 25 May 2009 - 02:25 PM

Well, its 5:00 here in Cincinnati, and I just mixed up a batch of Ramos Gin Fizzes for the Mrs & I. I squeezed one of those huge baseball sized lemons. It had really thick skin, and when I cut it in half I found that it had an extremely thick layer of pith. I was able to get a little less than an ounce and a quarter of juice from that huge lemon. I juiced another lemon, a small, thin skinned 'regular' sized lemon, half the size of the other lemon, and was able to get just over 1 3/4 ounces of juice from it. Go figure. It seems to me that thin skinned citrus tends be better for juicing than thicker skinned citrus. Anyone else find this to be true?
During lunch with the Arab leader Ibn Saud, when he heard that the king’s religion forbade smoking and alcohol, Winston Churchill said: "I must point out that my rule of life prescribed as an absolutely sacred rite the smoking of cigars and also the drinking of alcohol before, after, and if need be during all meals and in the intervals between them." Ibn Saud relented and the lunch went on with both alcohol & cigars.

#12 Dave the Cook

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Posted 25 May 2009 - 02:59 PM

Yep. That's why I usually pay a slight premium for loose fruit rather than the cheaper pre-bagged. A heft and a quick squeeze tells me whether it's a worthy specimen: juicy citrus is heavy for its size; thick skins don't have much give to them.

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#13 Vieux Carré

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Posted 26 May 2009 - 02:25 PM

I squeezed one of those huge baseball sized lemons. It had really thick skin, and when I cut it in half I found that it had an extremely thick layer of pith. I was able to get a little less than an ounce and a quarter of juice from that huge lemon. I juiced another lemon, a small, thin skinned 'regular' sized lemon, half the size of the other lemon,  and was able to get just over 1 3/4 ounces of juice from it.  Go figure. It seems to me that thin skinned citrus tends be better for juicing than thicker skinned citrus. Anyone else find this to be true?

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Yes, I have always found the thin and smooth skinned lemon the better for juicing and the thick and rougher skinned lemon the better for twists so I try to get some of both. The same is true for limes.