yay for citrus season!

so. many. lemons.

Our Forever Home came with a small citrus orchard.  We’ve discovered two types of mandarins, a Satsuma and Clementine; one Valencia orange tree; and three lemon trees – Meyer, Lisbon, and Eureka.  Our orange tree didn’t produce much this year, but the Mandarin trees could have fed a small country that we gave away by the bag full.  The most exciting trees for me, however, were the lemons! I know my husband prefers limes (squeezed into all kinds of drinks) but after looking past the basics of lemon juice,  I had several recipes in mind.  Our house was Lemon Heaven!

In our old neighborhood, we had the best neighbor ever, Julie.  Julie not only Dog-Sat for us when we left town, but she had the most beautiful Meyer lemon tree in her front yard.  This thing had to be at least 30 years old and would produce several hundreds of lemons each year.  And being the wonderful neighbor she was, we were all invited to share in the bounty.  My first thought was to make Limoncello. Because, well, Cocktail Hour.  But after scouring the internet, I found recipe after recipe for the abundance of citrus yumminess we found ourselves surrounded by.

What to make?

With the copious amounts of lemons right in our front yard, I wanted to both give away and use as much as possible, so as to not waste the wonderfully tart citrus explosion that we were gifted.  Here are my top 6.  I’d love to hear more ideas or recipes, so please share them below!

Limoncello

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There is something magical about this sweet lemon liqueur, sipped slowly, straight out of the freezer, ice cold.  It’s like visiting the grown-up version of your favorite neighborhood lemonade stand.  

preserved lemons

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Adding preserved lemon rind to countless dishes will surprise your palette with a complex and unique lemon umami flavor.  There’s a mild, yet deep lemon flavor that has to be experienced to be appreciated.

powdered lemon

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Sprinkle powdered lemon anywhere you would normally use lemon juice.  The powder is made by dehydrating the lemon peels, using the part that would normally go to waste.

lemon infused olive oil

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This infused oil will definitely kick things up a notch!  Drizzled on fish, added to salad dressing, poured onto poultry. Using the rinds to infuse the flavor will give you olive oil lemon yumminess anywhere you want the crisp taste of olive oil and citrus.

candied lemon

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Lemon peels for the win!  A special sweet treat and another way to use every bit of the tart fruit.  Serve them alongside a chilled glass of limoncello for a decadent after-dinner indulgence.

lemon juice

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For an extended lemon season, the freezer is your friend.  Juice your lemons, freeze them in ice cube trays, store the cubes in a plastic freezer bag, and you’ll have compact tablespoon-size juice cubes available for your recipes year-round. Add sugar for a quick lemonade!

easy to make, harder to wait

This recipe is super simple but requires patience waiting the month or so for the lemon oils to infuse into the alcohol.  

The road to Lemon Heaven

10 Lemons , washed & thinly peeled so there is minimal white pith

1 750 ml bottle vodka

1-2 cups sugar for simple syrup

Peel lemons thinly using the yellow portion and avoiding the bitter white pith.  Add peels and vodka to a quart glass jar.  Let infuse for up to a month,  or longer for a stronger lemon flavor.  I keep mine in my pantry, it does not need to be refrigerated, but keep it out of sunlight. Give the bottle a shake every 2-3 days.  Once it’s infused as long as you can wait, strain lemon peels from the liquid and add simple sugar to taste. (1 to 1 ratio of sugar to water, stir until dissolved) Once combined, transfer to smaller bottles (here are the ones I used) to share with friends.  Chill before serving.  I keep mine in the freezer, always ready and calling my name!  🙂

 

Because of the abundance of lemons available right in my yard, I will triple this recipe.  Store-bought lemons work just as well and any vodka brand is fine.  Everclear would be my preferred choice because of the higher alcohol content (it better extracts the lemon oil) but Everclear isn’t available here in California), so I work with what I have, and honestly it’s so tasty there are no complaints!

Preserved Lemons

Another easy recipe, but you’ll have to wait to try it.  Since you can make these in large batches so quickly, you’ll be able to keep a years worth in your pantry. 

Preserved Lemons

  • Lemons, washed (organic preferred, but not necessary)
  • Salt
  • Wide mouth pint canning jars
  • Optional spices: bay leaves, star anise, cinnamon, peppercorns, clove

Slice each lemon into quarters, careful to not score all the way through, you want them still connected at the bottom.  Generously pour salt into the cut portion, really making sure it’s completely coated.  Add lemons to your jar, squeezing and squishing to fit as tightly as possible, while the lemon juice fills the jar. You should be able to fit 3-5 lemons in a pint jar.  Add additional lemon juice, if needed, to completely cover the salted lemons.  For more of a Morrocan flavor, spices can be added as you go along.  Store in a cool, dry place and shake every couple of days for the first 2 weeks. Your preserved lemons are ready to use after a month and can be stored and used for up to a year.  Refrigerate after opening.  When ready to use, rinse thoroughly and remove pulp and seeds. You’ll be rinsing off most of the salt and you’ll be left with a unique intense lemon flavor.  Thinly slice or chop rinsed rind and add to any dish where you would use fresh lemon.

 

What to do with your preserved lemons
  • Add to salads
  • Incorporate into dressing
  • Add to stews or poultry dishes
  • Sautee with vegetables, rice, pasta, or grains
  • Add to dips
  • Dice and sprinkle over fish
  • The liquid is great for Bloody Marys! (a little goes a long way, so add cautiously to taste)

The lemon juice will become cloudy within a couple of days and the lemons will darken over time. Here is a photo of a batch I made today, vs one from about a year ago. Preserved lemons will last a year (or more) because of the salt. Salt is the oldest method of preserving food.  It kills microbes and bacteria.  The canning method here does not require a water bath, so it’s quick and effective for storage.  You’ll find a multitude of recipes online to use the exotic flavor kicking your recipes up another notch.

powdered lemon

You’ll love the versatility of this unique powder.  Think tart lemon flavor that can be easily stored and sprinkled on everything you would normally use lemon for.  

Powdered Lemon Rind

  • Lemon peels (seriously, the only ingredient)

Peel lemons and place in a food dehydrator or in the oven at the lowest temperature.  My dehydrator, although older, still works fine and took about 36 hours to completely dry out the rinds.  Once dried, I used my Nutribullet with the spice grinder attachment. You could also use a coffee grinder – I have two inexpensive ones, one for spices and the other solely for coffee beans, so as to not mix flavors.   After grinding you’ll want to sift out any large particles so only the fine powder is left.  Store in a tightly fitting glass jar.  I use a half-pint canning jar and keep it in the pantry with my other spices.

 

What to do with your lemon powder
  • As an ingredient for salad dressing
  • Sprinkle on fish or poultry 
  • Add to a fruit smoothie (extra vitamin C)
  • As a flavor enhancer on avocados 
  • Add to dips
  • Replace lemon zest in any recipe
  • Add to make your own custom spice blend
  • Can be used in homemade facial or body products

Lemon powder, if stored in an air tight container should last a year or longer.  It may clump after time, but it’s still perfectly fine.  Sift if necessary.  

Candied Lemon Peels

Yum.  Just Yum. With a little bit of time and effort the result is a deliciously sweet bite of lemon amazingness.  For me, these become gifts in pretty little cellophane bags, along with a bottle of limoncello. 

The perfect sweet ending to a nice evening!

Sugary Lemon goodness

  • Lemon peels 
  • Superfine or Bakers sugar (granulated sugar works, but the final product won’t have that sugar dusted look)

Peel lemons and slice into 1/2 inch-wide strips.  Cook peels in boiling water for 10 minutes (this will take away the bitterness). Remove with a slotted spoon and let dry on a wire rack for a half hour.   On your stovetop, in a medium-size pot, using a simple syrup model, 1 cup water, and 1 cup granulated sugar, add peels.  Boil until the peels turn translucent, about 15 minutes.   Add to wire rack and let cool slightly, about 15 minutes, and then coat in fine sugar.  (I did not have fine sugar, so the sugar clumps show a lot more, but won’t take away from the flavor).  I left them on the rack for 24 hours after the sugar dusting to fully dry and packaged them in cellophane candy bags. They will keep for about a month.

 

Lemon Infused Olive Oil

I always have a jar of this decadent oil on hand for dressings, to saute veggies, or to drizzle over fish or chicken.  

Lemon infused oil

  • Lemon peels or lemon zest
  • olive oil

Clean and peel lemons thinly, avoiding the bitter white pith.  Alternatively, you can zest them.  I use extra virgin olive oil (look for first press).  It has a deeper olive oil flavor.  For extreme lemon taste and aroma, just an extra light olive oil.  Add the oil and lemon peel (or zest) to a glass jar, filling the jar 1/3rd to half full.   Pour in the oil, making sure to cover the peels completely. Store in a cool, dark location for a few weeks.  The longer this sits, the more lemon flavor you can expect. Once the lemon has infused, strain the peels through a fine-mesh strainer or cheesecloth.  Add to a dark bottle and label.  Oil can go rancid after 12-18 months, and develop an “off” flavor. A dark container will keep it fresh tasting for longer. Amazon has multiple reasonably priced bottle options available.

 

 

Using the same infusing technique, you can also make garlic oil, rosemary oil, and chile oil, or a combination of all 3!  You’re only limited by your imagination. 

Lemon Juice

Obvious, super versital, can be used on anything, kind of a no-brainer.  The secret to year-round availability is to juice your lemons, freeze in ice cube trays, and store them in a plastic freezer bag.  Juice, in a compact tablespoon size for all your recipe needs!

Store fresh lemon juice in your refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.   

 

 

Add mint leaves to your ice cube tray for an unexpected addition to your iced tea!

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