The lemons on my lemon tree are almost ready and so am I with these recipes. If you live in a warm climate but don’t have a lemon tree in your yard, someone near you might. Check the website Falling Fruit for urban fruit trees that you can pick for free in your city.
Note bene! Some of these recipes incorporate the peels and you probably don’t want to eat peels covered in pesticide residue. You can find organic lemons at many grocery stores but they may be coated in food-grade wax. If, like me, you would prefer not to eat peels coated in wax, ask your grocer if the lemons have been coated. I have read online that you can pour boiling water over waxed lemons and then scrub off the wax. However, hot water will kill the beneficial microbes that you need to make the preserved lemons below.
1. Preserved Lemons
If you can find preserved lemons in a grocery store, they will cost you a small fortune—around 10 dollars for an 8-ounce jar, more for organic. Although they are worth the price, if you have a jar, some salt, a bunch of lemons and patience—these sit for a month or longer—you can easily make them yourself. I used about 10 lemons for each 1-liter jar pictured below—six to preserve and four for additional juice that goes into the jar.
Not sure what to do with your lemons once they are ready? See #2 and #3.
2. Hummus with Preserved Lemon
Preserved lemons go really well with beans and legumes, which play a big role in the planetary health diet, “The first science-based diet that tackles both the poor food eaten by billions of people and averts global environmental catastrophe.” Read about the diet here (hint: eat less red meat in Western countries).
When you set out on the plastic-free or zero-waste path, your hummus intake becomes inversely proportionate to the amount of trash you reduce. It’s a well-known phenomenon 😉
Preserved lemons contain a surprising amount of oil so I don’t add olive oil to this hummus recipe. I love conserving my expensive olive oil for other recipes! We go through lots of it.
3. Olive and Preserved Lemon Spread
This recipe is something like tapenade but I don’t call it that because I don’t add capers. It would taste good with them though, I just don’t usually have many on hand. Bulk heaven in San Francisco (aka Rainbow Grocery) may sell them. I will have to check the next time I go.
4. Lemon Extract
Don’t want to see lemon season end? Make this lemon extract to infuse lemony goodness into cakes, muffins, cookies, pancakes and more.
If you do make the preserved lemons, you will have lots of lemon peels left over from squeezing the juice necessary to cover the lemons in your jar. This extract—made like vanilla extract but with lemons—will use up some of those peels. Keep in mind that lemons zest more easily before you juice them.
5. Lemon Sorbet
When I wrote the post for this sorbet last year, I didn’t own an ice cream maker. Since then, I’ve found one—like new—on the side of the road. So I’ll make the sorbet in the ice cream maker this year. Don’t worry if you don’t own one though. To make sorbet without an ice cream maker, pour the liquid into a dish, put that in the freezer and pull it out every half hour or hour or so and whisk it until it freezes.
6. Lemon Curd
Lemon curd is a dessert spread you eat in the same way as jam. It tastes sweet, intensely lemony and has a velvety smooth, custard-like texture. It’s dangerously delicious. I could easily eat an entire jar on my own (and likely have).
To make lemon curd, whisk together lemon juice and zest, sugar and eggs in a small pot without heat. Add butter, turn heat on to medium-low, stir constantly until it thickens and then chill.
7. Naturally Carbonated Lemonade
This lemony, slightly spicy and not-too-sweet lemonade gets its natural carbonation from a ginger bug starter. So before you make the lemonade, you first need to make a ginger bug from organic ginger, sugar and water, and nurture it for about five days. At that time, the ginger bug will smell yeasty, you’ll see white yeast on the bottom of the jar and the bug will have transformed from sweet to slightly sour.
To make the lemonade, you make a simple syrup (sugar and water), let it cool, add lemon juice and liquid from the ginger bug, bottle the drink and wait. The bacteria and yeast in the ginger bug consume the sugar in the lemonade and excrete carbon dioxide, making your drink very bubbly.
But wait, there’s more!
If you find yourself with piles of peels from your lemons (or other citrus), you can use them to make:
- Candied citrus peels
- Frozen zest
- Citrus salt
- Citrus household cleaner
- Natural pest repellant
- Essential oil
- Looseleaf tea blend
- Roasted anything
- And of course, compost.
Happy lemon season!