When you open your front door and find bags and bags of lemons from your neighbor (all picked right off his backyard trees) you need to become a wizard at creating new and exciting ways to use them. A girl can only put so many squeezes of lemon in her tea, soda or on her fish and chicken!
This has been my predicament all winter long. His trees are so lush with lemons that he has been bringing an endless supply for weeks and I have risen to the challenge and have created a ton of recipes. I’ve got to mention that his lemons are nothing like the lemons you buy in the supermarket. These are plump and not at all uniform in size or shape. They are naturally flawed in appearance yet better than any lemons I’ve ever had.
If you are like me, you buy a couple of lemons at the grocery store and then spend a good ten minutes trying to figure out how to get juice out of them. First, you roll them on the counter pressing hard to try and get the juices moving. Then you pop them in the microwave because you know if they get warm, they release more juice. Then you saw them in half and use all your muscles squeezing out the full tablespoon of juice you’ll know you’ll get (if you’re lucky). Sound familiar?
Well, lemons right off the tree are something else completely. What makes just picked lemons from from your garden different from supermarket lemons?
. Their skin is thinner.
. They are more fragrant.
. They are bursting with juice (no need to roll, heat or use muscle).
. The flavor is more intense and sweeter somehow.
. There is 4 – 5 times more juice in every lemon
If that doesn’t give you enough reasons to make friends with lemon tree owners, nothing will. BTW, if you don’t have your own lemon trees or neighbors with lemon trees, I have found higher quality lemons at farmer’s markets and at organic fruit stands.
I’ve learned that the most common lemons grown in Southern California are the Lisbon, Eureka and Meyer lemons. It winds up, my neighbor has been providing me with Lisbon lemons and sure enough the Lisbon lemons tend to be the lemons found in most backyards here in California. The fruit is considered to be of good quality with large, juicy lemons with few seeds. Check, check and check!
I also learned that the main harvest of Lisbon lemons is in the winter and spring which explains the bags and bags of produce on my doorstep. So what was I going to do with all of this fruit? Honestly, it hasn’t been hard to come up with new recipes. I started by whipping out my tried and true “oldies but goodies” recipes for things like lemon bars and homemade Limoncello. Then, I moved on to more creative uses like cupcakes, cookies and pasta. I always use lemons to enhance fish, chicken and veggies but this winter I turned lemons into the star ingredient in things like Lemon Pasta, Sheet Pan Lemon Cod and Lemon Ricotta pancakes.
I also made good old fashioned lemonade!!! I hadn’t done that in years (didn’t want to fight with a dozen hard lemons). I made lemon sauces and lemon cupcakes, squeezed lemon in my tea, soda and water and added the lemon zest to everything! It has been a blast, So, if you find yourself looking for some new ideas on how to use lemons, I’ve got your covered. The following are the recipes that got the most “buzz” around the house (lemon honey, anyone?). Try one or all of these and be sure to let me know how they turn out. Pucker up!