Last December we had a huge crop of Meyer lemons. In addition to giving them away to eager recipients and curing our colds with lots lemon-and-honey tea, we made Limoncello. Lots and lots of Limoncello. Limoncello for gift baskets, Limoncello for the guests at our home on Christmas, and a freezer full of Limoncelllo. Now, just two months later, the bushes in the backyard are again loaded. Meyer lemons, Eureka lemons, small lemons, large lemons, deformed lemons. Two basketfuls of lemons.
Not one to let things go to waste, my daughter and I made plans to spend a weekend with our citrus. We brainstormed and came up with a plan. We will start with a batch of lemon curd. This is something I made several cases of every fall. Initially with lemons from my godparent’s lemon bush, the curd was sold at a Holiday boutique that I participated in annually. It was always a big hit and sold out quickly. Now we have our own lemons, and the boutique is a dim memory. We get to keep all of this for ourselves. This time around we do not can the curd, as we were trying to make several items within the span of 24 hours, but it lasts long enough in the refrigerator, and would not go to waste.
I have, over the years, tried different variations of lemon curd. But the best yet is from Bed and Breakfast Cookbook by Pamela Lanier. It is originally from the Shelburne Inn in Seaview, Washington. It is an easy and simple recipe that yields a great product.
1 cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice
7 Tbs lemon zest
1 lb. sugar
1 stick butter
8 eggs, lightly beaten
Combine lemon juice, zest, sugar, and butter in double boiler over simmering water until the sugar dissolves and the butter melts. Whisk the eggs into the lemon mixture and continue stirring until thick (about 20 minutes). Remove from heat, cool, and store in the refrigerator. Yield: approx. 5 cups.
Then we moved on to Meyer lemon marmalade. This recipe is courtesy of
Lemons: Growing, Cooking, Crafting by Kate Chynoweth and Elizabeth Woodson. A bargain find at Barnes & Noble, it has great photography throughout and give me inspiration during lemon frenzy sessions. The only thing about marmalade, is that the preparation takes place over 2 days. While it is relatively simple to make, you do have to plan ahead a bit.
Meyer Lemon Marmalade
8 Meyer lemons
5 cups sugar
Clean the lemons well. Using a sharp knife, slice the lemons into paper-thin slices. Remove any seeds and cut the slices into quarters. Place the lemon pieces in a large, nonreactive stockpot or jam pot and cover with 6 cups of water. Cover the pot with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature overnight.
On day 2, bring the lemon mixture to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer. Uncovered, for 1 hour, or until the mixture is reduced to about 6 cups. Stir in the sugar and boil over moderate heat, stirring occasionally and skimming off any foam, until a teaspoon of the mixture dropped on a cold plate gels, abouat 30 to 40 minutes.
Ladle the hot marmalade into sterilized jars and process for 5 minutes. (You can cut out the canning process and just keep the marmalade refrigerated for use.) Yields 4 pints.
Given the enormous wealth of lemons we have, I also decided to make some lemon simple syrup. This is something I keep in the house on a regular basis. We add it to hot tea in the wintertime, ice tea in the summertime. It is regularly stocked in our bar, along with mint simple syrup. We use it to saturate sponge cake to have with berries. It really has unlimited uses and takes little time to make. If all I have is leftover skins or rinds, I throw those in with equal amounts of water and sugar. If I have whole lemons, I cut off the peel and throw that in with lemon juice, water, and sugar. I simmer for about 15 minutes, cool, and put them into those clear sauce/ketchup bottles.
While this simmers on the stove, my daughter makes a basic tart dough. Because it is Super Bowl Sunday and my husband it a long-time Steeler fan, I melt some chocolate and make decorative chocolate footballs and fancy serifed “S” shapes to put on the tarts. Once the shells are baked, we fill them with the lemon curd and top them with fruit or the chocolate shapes. I must have had a premonition (too bad I didn’t make a bet with the local bookie), because I also added a #1 in chocolate for one of the tarts and lo and behold, the Steelers win!