We’ve been experiencing several concurrent days of frost here in California, and while the weather is certainly not as severe as in many parts of the country, it is dire when it comes to my prized Meyer lemons. So Saturday found me picking 3 flats of Meyers, yielding a total of 71 pounds.
On Sunday I began to make use of the lemons, and it’s much harder than you might think. Here is what I have done so far:
I started off with peeling 15 lemons for limoncello. I’ve got those peels mixed with 1.75 liters of Skye vodka, marinating for a month in my large glass sangria dispenser. Then I’ll make some lemon simple syrup to combine and finish it off. I keep my limoncello in the freezer and it can be used over ice cream, served plainly over ice, and in a version of the favored lemon drop cocktail. It’s a perfect summer drink (try adding some to your iced tea for a tasty adult version!), and will store nicely chilled until that time.
2. Simple Syrup
I also made a quart of lemon simple syrup, which involved 2 cups of sugar, 2 cups of water and 6 quartered lemons. I just boil it all for 10 minutes, let it cool, strain and pour into jars. We use this to flavor sparkling water, ice tea, hot tea, and of course, those lemon drop cocktails.
3. Lemon Zest and Juice
I have recipes that call for lemon zest, and often just make a topping for veggies using garlic, lemon zest, salt and some toasted bread crumbs. So I like to have some on hand. I do two types, a fine zest using a microplane and a long curly zest done with a traditional zester. I make little piles on a sheet of wax paper and throw them in the freezer for an hour or two. Once frozen, they can go in a Ziploc or Tupperware in the freezer for future use. Once I’ve zested the lemons, I juice them and freeze them in half-pint and pint jars. They are perfect for desserts, lemon curd, lemonade, soups, any recipe calling for lemon juice. You can even defrost them slightly in the microwave and just pour out the amount needed, popping the remainder back in the freezer. I now have 8 jars of juice in the freezer.
4. Lemon Curd
Every winter for the last 15 years I have canned lemon curd. I’ve actually been making the curd for a lot longer, but since we moved into this house, and have a steady stream of lemons available, it has become ritual. I use the same recipe each time. This recipe can be doubled, but I do not recommend any batches larger than that – so that you are better able to control the consistency and thickness. We use lemon curd on toast, but also as a tart filling, cake or cupcake filling, and whipped up with some cream to top blueberry desserts. It’s luscious and creamy and retains the wonderful flavor of the Meyer lemons.
5. Lemon Pudding
Sunday dinner calls for dessert, so I had to make something with lemon. I tried out a new recipe for lemon pudding, which was rich and smooth, not too sweet, but not at all tart. A little dollop of whip cream on top and it was the perfect finish (to what was a disappointing balsamic beef dish that I served at dinner). The recipe is adapted from Luscious Lemon Desserts by Lori Longbotham. (See below)
6. Lemon Ice Cubes
An ice cube tray is a perfect way to freeze lemon juice in 1-ounce (2 tablespoon) portions. You can pop one in your ice tea with regular ice cubes, add to hot tea for flavor and to cool it down, even use it in your alcohol-based drinks. They also thaw easily for salad dressings, and when just a small amount is needed in a recipe.
7. Lemon Dressing
I like to make my own dressings on occasion, and most involve a lemon juice base. A little olive oil, minced garlic, salt and pepper and you have a zingy dressing for greens. I made a batch and used some on this superfood salad. Given the amount of lemons I have, I should probably make a gallon, but I really have nowhere to store it!
One bag each to Brilliant Daughter and Mr. B to share with workmates.
And after all that, I still have a lug and a half left!!!! Suggestions???
Meyer Lemon Pudding
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 1/2 cups whole milk
4 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons finely grated Meyer lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup freshly squeezed Meyer lemon juice
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
In a medium saucepan, whisk together the sugar and cornstarch. Add the milk, egg yolks, zest, and salt and whisk until smooth. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently at first and constantly toward the end, until thickened.
Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the citrus juice and butter. Place a fine mesh sieve over a large bowl and pour the mixture through the strainer. Divide the mixture into 6 serving dishes and let cool to room temperature. Refrigerate, loosely covered for at least 3 hours and up to 3 days. Serve chilled by itself or with lightly sweetened whipped cream.
Yield: 6 servings