My little lemon tree was particularly prolific this year producing more than 125 big, beautiful Meyer lemons. Several years ago, The Little Tree That Could made about 45 humongous lemons but, for the last two years I only got three, each year. So, this bounty was a happy surprise. The lemons all come ready at one time, which isn't a problem when there are only three but with 125, and an overnight freeze imminent...well, that's alota lemons to process!
You can see how happy we all were to have this many! *wink* That's my ugly little tree, in the background. It's more of a shrub, really. I promise, I prune it but the thing just sprouts the most hideous, huge branches that shoot in all directions. So, there you go.
I juiced a bunch of them and froze them in muffin tins so I'd have juice for later. I made lemonade and lemon bread. I also made something I didn't really think I'd like but ended up loving; candied lemon peel (first photo.) It's kind of labor intensive but, wow...good stuff. I dipped mine in melted chocolate which made it even more decadent. Here's the recipe; I found it online, here.
- oranges, lemons or limes
- 4.25 cups water
- 2.5 cups sugar, plus more for coating
1. Use a knife or a citrus peeler to score the peels of four oranges into quarters. Peel the oranges carefully, trying to keep the peels intact as much as possible. Set the peeled oranges aside and reserve for another use.
2. Using a sharp knife, cut away the bitter white pith from the underside of the peels. The remaining peel should be approximately 1/8” thick. Do not worry if small amounts of white pith remain.
3. Slice the peels into long, thin strips approximately ½” thick.
4. Combine 4.25 cups of water and 2.5 cups of sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir to dissolve the sugar, and heat, uncovered, until the sugar boils for 5 minutes.
5. Add the strips of peel and turn the heat down to low, until the mixture is just at a simmer. Cook, uncovered and simmering, until the syrup reduces to a quarter of its original volume (the syrup will barely cover the tops of the peels). Do not stir during this process, as that might cause the formation of large sugar crystals. The simmering will take approximately 2 hours.
6. Remove the saucepan from the heat and allow it to cool. Once cool, drain the peels in a colander. At this point, turn your oven to 200 degrees.
7. Place about one cup of sugar in a small bowl. Dredge the peels in the sugar until they are coated, and place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Add more sugar if necessary.
8. Place the sugar-coated peels in the warm oven and allow them to dry out. This should take approximately one hour, but check them every 20 minutes to ensure that they are not burning or cooking in any way. Alternately, they can be left to sit overnight on a drying rack instead of placed in the oven.
9. Once peels are completely dry, scrape off any excess sugar clumps. Store them in a dry location and they should keep for weeks. Candied peels can be dipped in melted chocolate and enjoyed plain, or used in cake, cookie, candy, or bread recipes.
I juiced my lemons, then sliced them thinly and didn't worry about removing the pith...my juicer pretty much did that for me. The recipe calls for 4 oranges. Of course, if you're using lemons or limes, you'll need more than that.
Only 120 lemons to go.
I spent half a day making something I've always wanted to make, preserved lemons. I'm not sure if I'll like them or know how to use them but they sure sound good. Supposedly, they're delicious in salads, with meats, in all kinds of recipes. I sort of combined several recipes to do this so I'll try to describe what I did...and give you the links, here, here, here and here.
Moroccan Preserved Lemonssmall unwaxed lemonscoarse sea saltbay leavesblack peppercornscinnamon stickswhole allspicewhole clovesfresh chives
1. Sterilize 12 small canning jars, lids and rings by placing them in boiling water for 5 minutes. Leave it all in simmering water while you prepare lemons and pack each jar individually.
2. Wash lemons thoroughly. If they're waxed, scrub the wax off. Slice them in half, then slice the halves into eights, removing seeds.
3. Pour a tablespoon or two of salt into the bottom of the jar. Pack in the first layer of lemons over the top of the salt. Add a bay leaf, cinnamon stick and a couple of pieces of chive into the side of the jar. Add a few peppercorns, allspice and cloves (two or three of each, for each layer.)
4. Add another layer of salt on top of the lemons and continue layers, pressing the lemons down very firmly to extract the juice. Juice should just cover the top layer of lemons. If not, add more lemon juice. Finish layers with a final layer of salt and spices.
5. Put top and ring on jar. Don't tighten the ring too much...just finger tight. Finish packing all jars and place back into water bath; water should cover tops. Bring water to a boil for 10 minutes. Remove jars to a towel and allow to cool. Store in a dark place. To use, remove from jar and rinse. Store in refrigerator after opening.
Traditionally, the lemons should be quartered, lengthwise, then packed with about a tablespoon of salt and packed into the jars that way. But, I used small jars and my lemons are huge so I cut them up into small wedges. Also, I thought they'd be easier to use, that way.
Different recipes call for different spices and you can add what you want...or none at all. I wanted to add cardamon but couldn't find it, whole. Also, you could add rosemary, chili peppers, fennel seeds, cumin seeds, etc. You can also top the jars with vinegar instead of lemon juice.
I got a little carried away with this and, while I was at the store getting spices, grabbed a bag of limes. These are key limes and I'm not sure how they'll turn out but limes are another option for preserving this way.
So...yum! If any of you have some terrific tips for using these babies, clue me in. They have to sit for at least a month before I can use them so I'll be gathering a few recipes to try. Watch out, Wife Whisperer!
deryn (with at least 75 lemons left-any ideas?)