Preserving Lemons


It is the time of year we read posts from our neighbors: "Free Lemons! Please come and pick from our tree!" An abundance of lemons...

It is the time of year we read posts from our neighbors: "Free Lemons! Please come and pick from our tree!" An abundance of lemons!

The most common lemon in Southern California is the Meyer "Improved" Lemon. The Meyer is thought to be a cross between a Mandarin orange and  a Eureka lemon. The Meyer is both tart and sweet and can be used as a lemon in most recipes. It was first introduced to the California citrus industry in the early 1900's, but was susceptible to local diseases. A better version was created at the University of California. It was resistant to the diseases. This is the Meyer "Improved" Lemon.

A number of recipes we enjoy at the house call for lemon juice and/or zest, such as marinade for chicken shawarma, chicken barbecue, Thai green curry, and lemon gelato. It is easy this time of year to just go outside and pick a lemon, but planning ahead and buying a lemon at a store stumps my style of spontaneous cooking. 

So the question is: How to preserve the bounty of the Meyer Lemon for the future, when the tree is empty? 

I used two methods: Freezing and drying.

I picked 13 of the lemons, then washed in soapy water. 

Zest Storage

Using my handy zesting tool, I processed the lemons. Like shearing sheep, the fruit looked naked with out its outer coat.

I then spread out the zest on my drying screens.

I put the screens on the dehydrator at 165℉ for 6 hours.

This dried out the zest. I then transferred the zest to a mason jar. It should keep for months in the cupboard with my other spices.

Saving the Juice

I sliced the naked lemons and extracted the juice using an attachment on the Kitchen Aid mixer. I strained the juice and put it into ice cube trays.

The trays have a nice snap on cover which makes them easy to stack in the freezer without sticking. 

The remains of Lemon Gelato in the background

The next day I emptied the trays, washed them and got ready for the next batch of lemons.

When the tree is empty and I have a recipe for a little juice I can reach into the freezer of a cube or two. If I need zest, it will be in the cupboard.



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At Home and Away: Preserving Lemons
Preserving Lemons
At Home and Away
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