While you can go into a market and buy a lemon any time of the year, citrus growing season is primarily during the winter months. This is when you’ll see all kinds of navel oranges, blood oranges, meyer lemons and other citrus at farmers markets – and when the prices in supermarkets are likely to be lower! Fresh juice is always more flavorful in recipes (not to mention when you simply want a glass of orange juice), but even better than fresh juice is fresh citrus zest for adding a burst of bright flavor to a recipe. I take advantage of citrus when it is plentiful to make things like Meyer Lemon Cranberry Upside Down Cake, Orange Cranberry Muffins and Cream Cheese Key Lime Pie, and I stock some away for the “off season” by freezing it.
Lemon zest and other citrus zests freeze fairly well. Just zest your fruit with a microplane and divide it up into single serving portions (approx 1 tbsp; you could do a big batch, but this tends to be more convenient). Wrap them well in small pieces of plastic wrap, toss in a freezer safe bag (or other airtight container) and freeze. The zest doesn’t need to be defrosted and can be incorporated right into a recipe, just as fresh can. It will loose a little flavor if you keep it for too long, but it still infuses a nice flavor into a recipe and doesn’t give you the artificial taste that flavored extracts can.