I’ve grown up cutting lemons « horizontally » and I never thought some people would do it the other way. If you’ve ever travelled to Thailand, you may have notice that there, the people tend to cut their limes « vertically », in about 5 slices that they would finally squeeze between their fingers. Seeing this, I would feel that they get tons of juice all around their hands and fingers, loosing the most of it. But after testing this technique, I found several advantages to cutting the lime « the other way », and one of them is to be able to keep opened citrus fresh for several days.
Which is the best way?
My first impression was that by cutting the lime vertically some pockets remain closed which makes it difficult, or impossible, to squeeze « properly », would it be with my fingers, using a fork (my favourite way), or with a lemon squeezer. The opinion of a Thai friend was the opposite and she told me that when we cut the lime « horizontally », we loose juice.
It’s maybe because if citrus have a very thick or hard skin, they’re very difficult to squeeze (squeezing them around a fork can help a lot). So by cutting the lime in smaller slices they make it easier to squeeze because the skin is less tough with smaller pieces. If you want to squeeze your whole citrus this way, you can cut it vertically, four times in a square shape, which will leave a long rectangular shaped central part that you can also squeeze or twist. I prefer to wash the citrus before opening it that way, because the juice and the skin get a lot in contact with they technique (for me at least).
But, my best discovery with horizontal cutting is not how to squeeze the whole fruit, it’s actually how to squeeze a part of it and keep the rest fresh for a few days. To me, a nice advantage at cutting limes the vertical way is that it lets me use only the amount of lemon or lime I need, and keep the rest fresh for another day, even without fridge.
Concerning the amount of juice you get by cutting horizontally or vertically, each culture may thing they have the best technique because it’s the one they’ve always used, but I believe that whatever the way we cut our citrus, we both can get the most of juice out of it.
Choose the best way according to what you need from your citrus :
Nonetheless, there are some differences that make each technique more relevant to use in different situations, depending on the quantity of juice we need.
For making a large amount of juice, I would use the horizontal way, which opens every pocket and makes it easy to juice out with hands (unless the citrus skin is very hard), a fork or a lemon squeezer.
For using just a little bit of lemon or juice, I like the vertical way better because I can squeeze it pocket by pocket. A citrus has about 8 pockets, so you can really use only the amount you need ! I personally push the juice and pulp out of each pocket with my thumb, which is not the local way but lets each pocket looking dry clean with I believe all the juice out. By doing it like this, you can better preserve the freshness and moisture of the citrus in the pockets that remained closed, even without fridge (which is great when you travel alone and that you want to use a little bit of lime only for your meal).
On the opposite, if you open a citrus the horizontal way and let it stand it will dry out faster, especially if you have « half squeezed » your half.
The closed pockets keep the moisture in the fruit just as the mulch or organic cover does on a land. In the same way, you can also mulch your entire citrus, to better keep its freshness of your lime, you can cover it with a plastic bag or a plate for example, because its outside skin can also become very dry and hard after a few days (after being collected from the tree). The vertical technique is also useful in that case, a dry lime will be easily squeezed by opening it pocket by pocket even with a very hard and inflexible outer skin.
Eating citrus with the skin :
Citrus skin contains many fragrant and healthy essential oils, it is very nice to eat it fresh combined with other food, for this use i would really really get organic or chemical free fruits.
For eating the citrus skin, you can add a whole lime or lemon with skin to give your home fruits and green leaves juices a very fragrant taste.
Or you can try Miang Kham, a surprising and very tasty Thai snack made with lime slices with their skin too. Every time I eat it I get astonished by the sparkling taste of all the ingredients. Here is the recipe. I’m working on creating a similar dish with European ingredients.
Citrus skin of citrus fruits you have already squeezed can also be dried easily, cut the skin in small pieces and let it stand for a few days on a plate, or any thing that let the air flow. You can use it for making infusions, add it to some dishes like rice or to yummy cakes. You can also add it to your home made herbal salt, as small pieces in the coarse salt for cooking, or ground it into powder for the table salt.
Other uses: air freshener
Finally, you can also give your house a fragrant smell, by making orange or other citrus candles. Fresh fruits are used, cut horizontally and already squeezed for their juice. You will separate the flesh and skin from the outer hard skin of the fruit with carefully keeping the stem inside of the fruit that will be the candle’s wick. Let the fruit’s skin stand for 30 minutes and add oil (canola oil for example) wick can absorb some oil. Then you can light it, but it will take several attempts to light.
It is maybe possible to simply burn the dried pieces of citrus, some people add them to pot pourri.