What to do with Lemons?

wfspath(z10 CA)June 26, 2007

Does anyone have any suggestions for what to do with my lemons (please no lemonbars, lemonade, or other cooking suggestions)? I have way too many to possibly eat. Can I donate them anywhere or give them to a farmer's market (I live in San Diego)? I run into this problem every year. I have probably close to 300 pounds of ripe lemons on my tree. They start to rot if I don't remove them. Over the weekend I threw over 100 pounds into my greenery recycling bin and if you looked at the tree you wouldn't be able to tell that any were removed. I would have gotten rid of more, but I thought the garbage men might not be able to lift the bin. I feel bad throwing them away, but if I don't they eventually rot.

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Man, you're probably not going to get too many sympathetic ears from us Northerners with zone envy :)

    Bookmark   June 26, 2007 at 2:05PM
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OMG! And when I think that a good sized lemon in the supermarket goes for $1.00 here. The little ones you can get by the bag that are more reasonably priced, but I LOVE the big lemons! I wish we were neighbors!

For donating, why don't you seek out your local food kitchen? I'm sure they'd love to have a load of fresh lemons. Also, I can't imagine any farmer, who doesn't have his own, at a Farmer's Market turning down a donated big basket of fresh lemons to sell. How about your neighbors?

I go through lemons like crazy just in cooking and baking, but can use quite a bit also just to garnish and refresh a glass of ice water during dinner. It's my favorite drink to compliment a dinner. Not to mention, so good for you. Aids in digestion.

You didn't say why type of lemons you had, but why not make your own Limoncello....a lemon-flavored liquer? If you don't drink alcohol, bottle it up and give it out as gifts in pretty bottles. Anyone who likes alcohol, to some extent, would love Limoncello. Very freshing served as an after-dinner liqueur or even a little poured over some lemon sorbet for dessert. Also, a dash added to a lemon-drop martini gives it a hint of lemony sweetness without taking away that tang. It takes a while to make, but it beats having the lemons rot on the tree.

Here's a recipe for Limoncello. Also, the spelling Lemoncello/Limoncello seems to be unsettled even in Italy. I have bought two different varieties here at the ABC store, both spelled different. I do have to say I prefer the Giori brand, spelled with the "E". It's 30% alcohol by volume. The other one I've found here, Pallini, is good, and is 26% alcohol by volume and spelled with an "I". Both are imported from Italy. I enjoy it in a liqueur glass served with crushed lemon-ice, just fresh lemon juice frozen into cubes and then crushed in a ziploc bag and spooned into the glasses.

15 thick-skinned lemons (Eureka, Lisbon, or Citron)
2 bottles (750ml) 100-proof vodka
4-1/2 cups sugar
5 cups water

Wash the lemons in hot water before you start. Remove the peel with a vegetable peeler, removing all white pith on the back of the peel by scraping with a knife, and put the peels in a 4-quart Mason jar.
Add 1 bottle of vodka and stir. Cover the jar, date it, and put it to rest in a dark cabinet at room temperature.
After 40 days, take out the vodka-lemon mixture. In a saucepan set over high heat, stir the sugar and water together and boil for 5 minutes. Let the sugar syrup cool completely in the pan, about 10 minutes. Add the sugar syrup to the vodka-lemon mixture along with the second bottle of vodka. Stir well to combine. Replace the cover on the jar and note the finish date. Return it to the dark cabinet and store for 40 more days.
At Day 80, remove the limoncello from the cabinet. Strain the mixture and discard the lemon peel.
Pour into clean, unused bottles with caps or decorative corked bottles. Store the bottles in the pantry, but put one bottle at a time in the freezer until ready for use.
Makes approximately 3 quarts.

Also, if you have the freezer space, you can make lemon pound cakes and freeze them. They freeze beautifully. Also, you can make your own lemon sorbet! Or lemon gelato! YUM!

There are lots of things to do with lemons other than lemonade.

How about a Lemon Olive-Oil Rosemary cake?

Lemon Olive-Oil Rosemary Cake

This is a lovely, light, tasty unusual cake thats great with tea. Sometime IÂm going to try making it substituting honey for part of the sugar I think that would be even more tasty. The recipe is based on one from Epicurious, with a few changes.

3/4 cup olive oil (extra-virgin if desired), plus additional for greasing pan
5 large eggs, separated, reserving 1 white for another use
3/4 cup plus 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 large lemon
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves
3/4 cup cake flour (not self-rising)
1/2 cup cornmeal
1 teaspoon of salt (used in two halves)
pinch of cream of tartar

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

2. Take a loaf pan and grease it lightly with olive oil (spray oil is great for this). Then line it with parchment paper (itÂs fine to just rip off a big chunk of paper and leave it hanging out of the pan) and grease the side of the paper facing the cake as well.

3. Combine egg yolks and olive oil in a medium mixing bowl. Beat them together until theyÂre smooth and well combined.

4. Zest the large lemon. If youÂre using a microplane zester, you can add the zest directly to the egg yolks and olive oil; if youÂre using a zester that produces long strips of zest then mince the zest before adding it. Then squeeze the juice from the lemon into the mix, being careful not to add any seeds to it (wrapping the lemon in cheesecloth, or squeezing the juice into a separate bowl first are both effective ways to do this). (IÂm very fond of this microplane zester).

5. Mince the rosemary leaves and add them to the mixture. Be sure theyÂre fresh! Dried rosemary will be both stronger and not as good-tasting.

6. Add 1/2 cup of sugar to the mix. Beat it in until the resulting mixture is smooth.

7. Add the flour, cornmeal and 1/2 teaspoon of salt to the top of the mixture. Gently mix this in by hand - do not use a power mixer. If you overmix the flour, the cake will be tough.

8. Now take the 4 egg whites you reserved, add the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt and the cream of tartar, and beat the whites until foamy (this is a great place to use an electric mixer). Make sure that the bowl youÂre using and the mixer blades are clean and completely free of fat (so if you were using this mixer a moment ago to beat the eggs - make sure yoÂve thoroughly cleaned it first). If thereÂs any fat present, the egg whites will not achieve the consistency youÂll need.

9. Gradually add the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar to the egg whites as you continue to beat them. You want to beat them long enought that they form stiff peaks. DonÂt over beat them. And use them as soon as theyÂre ready.

10. Gently mix 1/3 of the egg whites into the flour/egg/oil mixture. Then take 1/3 of it and fold it in, using gentle repetitive folding motions. Repeat with the last third.

11. Put the batter in the greased, lined loaf pan. Sprinkle remaining 1 and 1/2 tablespoons of sugar on top. Bake for approximately 45 minutes. A toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake should come out dry; if it doesnÂt, bake a few minutes longer. Cool on a rack for 10 minutes, gently remove from the pan, and let cool to room temperature before serving.

Makes roughly 8 servings.

Also, if you cook, fresh lemon juice is a great way to brighten up a lot of dishes (a squeeze over fresh veggies is wonderful), as well as use as a base for marinades (fish, chicken). It may take some time with all your lemons, but squeeze them for their juice (I zest mine first and freeze the zest for use later in dishes), and pour the fresh juice into ice cube trays and freeze. As they freeze, empty out the trays and store the cubes in a gallon-sized freezer bag. You'll have fresh lemon juice for any recipe, whenever you want. Though with your productive tree, that doesn't seem to be a problem! :-) But as I said, it beats letting them rot on the tree or sending them to the compost pile.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2007 at 2:13PM
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wfspath(z10 CA)

Jeff n Jessa: Sorry for the delay in responding, but I think everyone has zone envy. There are tropicals I'd like to grow but can't (decent mangoes) and cold weather plants I'd like to grow but can't (cherries and decent apples). My brother is a horticulturist at the botanical gardens in Encinitas, CA, and has acres of unusual and exotic plants to care for and there are tons of things he'd like to be able to grow, but can't.

Herbholic: Thank you for the obviously time-consuming response. I use lots of lemons and give tons away. The good thing about a lemon tree is that you have ripe lemons year round, however, in the summer so many become ripe at once that I can't possibly use them all.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2007 at 12:03PM
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You're so welcome. A lot of it was "cut and paste" from recipes I'd saved as text documents, so I didn't have to type everything out, so the post didn't take that long.

There is a LOT of zone envy here, I will tell you. I'd LOVE to be able to put my citrus trees in the ground, let alone get the type of yield you do. You're so lucky. I'd give anything to be your neighbor~ lol! I'd have gallons ans gallons of Lemoncello fermenting as we speak, let alone stacks and stacks of lemon poundcake in the freezer!

Happy gardening and continued fruitfulness!!!!

    Bookmark   July 14, 2007 at 10:48AM
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Wf, I don't know how it works in CA, but here in IL, ppl donate fruit/veggies to places for the homeless/elderly. I'm sure they'd appreciate the lemons..heck, they can make quite a few dishes w/those lemons..LOL.
I too am envious of your 'problem' LOL..Toni

    Bookmark   July 14, 2007 at 3:14PM
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Call your local Salvation Army, your local food bank or a homeless shelter. Pick the lemons and deliver them to whichever group wants them. They will make pies, lemonade and other desserts for people who seldom enjoy dessert.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2007 at 11:02PM
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paradisi(Sunshine Coast)

Over here - Australia - the Sally army and St Vincent depaul society all gratefully accept fruits and vegies.....some of my older neighbours even get their trees stripped by volunteers from the welfare groups -

    Bookmark   August 18, 2007 at 11:26PM
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