Lemon essential oil smells wonderful and is useful in many ways, from cooking to cosmetics.
I love making it at home, especially because this method is simple, easy and straight-forward, but probably it will not give the most abundant yield and a peculiar ingredient is needed. Still, I'm pretty satisfied with it.
In short, it's mixing the peels with some pectic enzyme and pressing them with a slow juicer.
Pectic enzyme is a natural component that brake down pectin and is also used in industrial oil production.
Pectin is naturally present in fruits and vegetables, especially citrus, and we can say it's there to close the fruit wounds. If left inside your "peel juice" it will form bonds and reduce the quantity of oil available. So we can say that adding pectic enzyme makes a great difference in results. It's also pretty cheap, as it's normally used in wine making.
If you want to use the essential oil for cooking you can also skip the pectic enzyme part. Just put everything in the freezer as you finish. As you cook it, the oil will scent the food and the pectin will act as a thickening agent.
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Step 1: Materials and Tools
- Lemons (more than 1kg)
I recommend using organic ones, with edible zest. You don't know what's going to be inside your oil otherwise.
- Pectic enzyme (2,5g per kg of lemons peels)
- a knife
- a couple of cups and bowls
- a squeezer
- a slow juicer
Step 2: Preparing Your Lemons
Wash your lemons and cut them in half.
Step 3: Squeeze Them
Squeeze your half lemons, saving the juice on one side and the peel on the other.
Don't bother with the pulp that sits in the squeezer, just put in a cup as you make it. You are going to put it in the juicer later.
Just try to clean the white part of the peel as much as possible.
You could peel the lemons instead of squeezing them, but that way a lot of oil ends up wasted.
Step 4: Prepare the Peel Before Juicing It
Cut the lemon peel in smaller pieces, to make it easier for your juicer to process them.
Sprinkle your pieces with enzyme powder, 2,5g per kilo of lemon peels.
Step 5: Press Them!
Put the peels into the slow juicer a few at a time, and let it squeeze out the oil. This process results in a thick emulsion, as hard as mayonnaise, that will stick to your juicer. As you put more lemons inside it will start to come out to be collected. With my juicer it took at least 1/4 of the peels to start dropping out.
When you are finished pressing the peels and collecting the emulsion it's time to juice the pulp you saved earlier.
The juice you'll get now will be rich in oil and scent... and turbid. But it should become really clear with time, thanks to the enzyme.
Step 6: That's It!
The lemon oil emulsion is ready to be used, but if you let it sit for a night in the pantry the oil will separate, resulting in a really clear harvest.
My slow juicer isn't the most efficient in extracting juices, but i like it because it's small and easy to clean.
Nonetheless, i used 1,4kg of lemons and ended up with 440g of juices and 73g of emulsion. Much cheaper than buying it!!
I froze the lemon juice for making lemon sorbet in the future, it should be enough for 3,5kg of it!
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