What to do with lemons

Around the middle of winter in many countries, you’ll start seeing lemons everywhere: a bowl at the op-shop counter, a tub at the library, a washing basket in the office tea-room, a box on the neighbour’s nature strip. It’s a sign that citrus season is upon us and it’s time to pull out all the recipes you can so you can catch and store all that lovely energy from the sun to use throughout the year. There are SO many great things you can do with citrus, and to save you doing all that hunting around, we’ve gathered a stack of ideas to make with lemons.

1.Cordial. This traditional recipe is tangy and delicious, and makes an excellent addition to a G&T. As you use mostly the juice, you’ll be left with lots of lemon ‘carcasses’: some of the recipes below use those bits, so don’t chuck them away!

2. Icy-poles, sorbet or granita. Use either fresh juice or the cordial above.

3. Curd/butter. All citrus goes beautifully in this sliky, sumptuous preserve, but lemon is a traditional favourite.

4. Marmalade. Lemon helps marmalade Set beautifully, so we use it in this recipe, and this one too.

5. Chutney. Yep! you might not think of it, but citrus chutney is really good with roasts and cold meats. This recipe can be made with any citrus, and you can use the ‘carcasses’ leftover from other preserving ventures.

6. Pickles. Similar to the chutney, this is a spicier Indian-inspired pickle that does wonders to lift the richness of a heavy curry. You can make this with fruit ‘carcasses’ as well.

7. Limoncello. Basically, this is just lemon zest, with sugar in vodka. Leave it to steep for a month, then strain and store in the freezer. Super refreshing with soda water.

8. Moroccan preserved lemons. These are actually fermented, and last forever! Use the tangy brine in dressings, sauces and drinks, and use the fruit in curries, stews and roasts.

9. Baking. Lemon slice, lemon yoghurt cake, lemon drizzle cake, lemon & coconut cookies… there are so many recipes out there. Just search “Baking with lemons” for inspiration!

10. Fire Cider. An apple cider vinegar infusion taken daily to help boost immunity. Great to make in winter.

11. Dehydrated slices. Useful in mulled wine/cider, marinades, cake decorations, cocktail garnishes, even hung on a garland on the Christmas tree!

12. Dried & powdered zest. Peel or grate the zest off lemons before juicing them and dry it. Powdered, it can be used in baking, seasonings, spice rubs, flavoured salts or sugars, and in sweet treats.

13. Dried zest pieces. Leave some dried zest in large pieces and use in marinades, infusions, herbal tea blends, bath salts, soap-making.

14. Roasted. Stuff into a chook with thyme and garlic before roasting, or roughly quarter and roast in a tray bake with fish or pumpkin.

15. Marinades. Use either zest, juice or slices to make Lemon garlic chicken, Lemon pepper beef, honey & lemon cauliflower, just for starters.

16. Dishwasher cleaner. Cut a lemon in half and chuck it in the top tray. The citric acid in the juice and the lemon oil in the skin help to degrease and freshen your dishwasher.

17. Cleaning vinegar. Basically just lemon carcasses/peel steeped in white vinegar for a month then strained well. Chuck in a spray bottle and use as an all-purpose surface cleaner. The Vinegar disinfects, and the citrus oil helps to degrease and clean.

18. Stainless steel cleaner. Sprinkle salt or bicarb soda on stainless steel surface, then rub gently with a cut lemon and wipe down for a sparkly clean.

19. Frozen. Either squeeze lots of juice and freeze in ice cube trays, or just freeze slices or even whole washed lemons so you can access fresh lemon juice all year round.

20. Jammaking. Freeze pips and/or pith to use in jammaking to help reach a Set. Tie a handful of pips/pith into a square of muslin and add to any jam pot. Remove before jarring up.

21. Compost. Contrary to popular belief, citrus can absolutely be composted. The key is just to not add more than your compost can handle. Like any ‘green’ additives, be sure to balance out any citrus additions with other nitrogen additives like fresh leaves, veggies and garden clippings, and plenty of ‘brown’ carbon materials like dried leaves, dry cardboard, straw.

However you decide to use your lemons, remember that these delightful citrus fruits are a seasonal wonder, so it’s worth thinking ahead to how you can best catch and store their energy in as many ways as possible before they disappear for the year. And share them around!! We maintain that no-one (in Naarm/Melbourne, at least) should ever have to pay for lemons (or bay leaves, or rosemary, but that’s for another day): there are more than enough lemons in backyards around Australia to keep us all in citrusy happiness year-round. 🙂

Permaculture Principle: 1: Observe and interact, 2: Catch and store energy; 3: Obtain a yield; 5: Use and value renewable resources and services; 6: Produce no waste; 10: Use and value diversity.

Try these citrusy recipes with your abundance of lemons…

2 Comments Add yours

  1. fergie51 says:

    What a great post! I’m currently picking up oranges fallen off the tree but not quite ready to eat so perfect timing as I had wondered about this. Thanks again!

    1. Thanks Maree!
      So glad I managed to get the article together this year (I’ve been meaning to do a Lemon post for the last couple of years!!), and that it’s come in handy for you.
      One thing I didn’t mention was making candied lemon peel – perfect for your sourdough Christmas cake and fruit loaves!

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