What to do with all those lemons?
Recently we harvested all the lemons from our single lemon tree. What to do with all those lemons? Four bags full, weighing in at 22,5 kg! This surprised us as we initially took only one bag when going to the tree. I had to go back to fetch some more bags! The reason this came as a surprise is because I have to admit the tree had been neglected over the past few years. First off all the tree had suffered from frost and had to grow out all over again. Thereafter our beloved Saanen milk goats raided the tree… Anyone with goats will know what a tree looks like when goats are finished with it! The tree looks a bit distorted at the moment. We first wanted to see if the tree would survive. Now to rectify and salvage what is left of our lemon tree. The tree that obviously still wants to grow and produce.
Meanwhile, we have planted a new lemon tree in 2016 closer to our home that is still growing and have not produced any harvests yet.
The first thing that came to mind was Lemon Juice. I love using lemon juice over avocados, or over salads as part of a healthy salad dressing and then there is the old-as-time no-brainer: Fresh lemon juice in lukewarm water early in the morning!
I used an electric juice extractor. First of all rinse the lemons and pat them dry. Thinly peel them (remember to preserve these peels as well). I ended up peeling the lemons twice. First to remove the rind, then to remove the white pith. The white pith can be bitter tasting and you do not want too much of this in your lemon juice. Thereafter cut in half and remove some of the pits. Juice them, poor into ice cube trays and freeze. Once frozen, remove the cubes from the tray and store in plastic bags in the freezer until needed. I also used 500 ml plastic bottles to store and freeze the lemon juice.
The pulp went to the chickens or you can add it to the compost heap.
Of course you do not want to waste the rind! Be careful not to take the white pith with the rind when peeling your lemons. I am considering using some of this rind in a new Lemon rind goat milk soap recipe.
First of all you can finely grate these rinds and store this in small containers or plastic bags in the freezer until needed for baking.You can use this rind in any cake batter or recipe that calls for lemon zest. One of our household’s favorites is my homemade cream cheese Cheesecake.
Another option is to warm 1/3 cup of Olive oil with the rind of one large lemon in a saucepan, turn the heat off, cover the pan and let the oil steep overnight. Strain the oil and store in any airtight container. I prefer keeping this oil in the refrigerator. Use this lemon rind infused oil for pan-frying fish with a little added crushed garlic. It is also delicious poured over steamed or oven baked vegetables.
I also dried some of the rind in our Ellis de Luxe wood stove. Place the longer strips of rind in a baking pan on a wire rack. I placed mine in the warming oven. The drying process might take some time. Once completely dried out, chop them up into smaller pieces. Add course sea salt and black peppercorns. Mix all of these together in a pepper mill and enjoy your own Homemade Lemon Pepper!
Last of all, I placed some of the lemons in airtight bags in the refrigerator. The airtight bags help to lock in moisture that would have escaped through the lemon’s rind. Preventing this moisture loss will help your lemons stay fresher for longer. Be sure to use them first.
When the lemons become too much and it feels like it is never going to end, give some lemons away and make a friend’s day! (I did!) ?
If you like preserving food and want to be more self-sustainable, you might also like our article on Drying fresh herbs.