Lemons

uhand With the pile of lemons we got last month, I got about 3 cups of Lemon Zest, about 3 cups of Citrus Candy, 9 quarts of Lemon Bug Repellent, about 3 gallons of Lemon Juice which I then used about 2 gallons of that for several pints of Lemonade. The recipes follow.

Lemon Zest

I’m just beginning to discover all the wonderful uses of lemon zest.

Step 1: clean and dry the lemons.

Step 2:

Option 1 – grate the outer yellow part of the lemons with a fine grater. Or use a zester tool like this or this. Be careful to avoid getting the white bitter pith part under the yellow outer skin.

Option 2 – use a potato peeler to cut off the yellow outer skin, being careful to avoid the white bitter pith.

A word of caution: be aware that citrus oil found in the skin is strong. It can cause irritation if rubbed in the eye (ok “irritation” is a mild word…it burns like the dickens!) It can also pit and damage some plastics, so be careful with what you grate it into.

Step 3: Drying

If you don’t wish to dry the zest, move onto step 4. Drying can be done in the oven or with a dehydrator. Just lay out the zest in a thin layer on cookie sheet or tray (wax paper works well for grated zest) and dry on a low setting. Peeled skins can then be ground in a blender.

Step 4: store the zest in an airtight container. I also put it in the freezer to lengthen the storage time. The undried zest can also be frozen with a little water in ice cube trays.

Citrus Candy

My mom used to make these yummy candies around Christmas time. They make great gifts and wonderful memories.

Step 1: wash and dry lemons

Step 2:

Option 1 – peel the lemon, cut into strips and then carefully cut the white pith away from the yellow outer skin. Some say that boiling the skins for several minutes makes it easy to scrape the pith away. I didn’t find it all that much easier.

Option 2 — use a potato peeler to cut off the yellow outer skin into strips, being careful to avoid the white bitter pith.

Step 3: boil the skins for 5 minutes, pour off the water (save for Lemon Bug Repellent) and rinse skins. Repeat 2 more times. This step is essential to remove the bitter oil in the skins.

Step 4: measure skins. For each cup of skins, place a cup of sugar and a cup of water in a clean pot (if you used the pot for step 3, make sure it is cleaned well to get the bitter oil out). Bring to a boil, add skins and simmer until the skins are translucent. Be patient…it takes about 45-60minutes. (The resulting syrup can be saved and used like any other syrup.)

Step 5: lay the skins out to dry on wax paper. This will take about 24 hours, though it can be sped up by using an oven or dehydrator on a low setting. About 2/3 of the way, while the skins are still slightly sticky, roll in a little sugar if you’d like…or dip with chocolate.

Step 6: store in airtight containers.

Lemon Bug Repellent

Most bugs are repelled by lemons and some like aphids are effectively dispatched. Spiders in particular are said to hate walking over lemon “paths”…which is my main goal for this stuff. We have a more then healthy population of Black Widow spiders and fears of Brown Recluse, make me nervous with young children and our loved pets. They have their place, but I need them gone from my kids’ playing place. I’m going to run a few experiments this season and I’ll let everyone know how it goes. (Caution: citrus oil can be irritating to mucus membranes like eyes…say OUCH!!. Cats are also sensitive…trust me…no one wants a sick cat! So be careful when using this. Hey…maybe this will keep the strays from using my garden!)

Step 1: peel and boil the skins of several lemons. Some like to let the sun steep the peels by putting them in a jar of water and setting it in the sun for a couple of weeks. I saved the water from step 3 of the Citrus Candy recipe above.

Step 2: strain out the peels and retain the lemon oil water.

Step 3: store in airtight containers in the fridge. I had so many lemons that I ended up water bath bottling 9 quarts (plus 3 quarts of an orange version to try).

Step 4: mix whatever proportion with water for the bug you’re fighting in a spray bottle (as soon as I get the results from my experiments, I’ll post an update).

Lemon Juice

We use lemon juice in many ways…fish, poultry and desert recipes of course…but it’s also good for flavoring water and heating for sour throats.

Step 1: wash and dry lemons

Step 2: peel, being careful to remove as much bitter pith as possible.

Step 3: use a juicer to remove the juice

Step 4: I divided some of the juice into 1 cup bags for the freezer and froze some in ice cubes.

Lemonade

We tend to drink a lot of Country Time lemonade (you know…the powder stuff you mix with water), so it’s nice to have our own version from a fresh source. It’s not exactly like Country Time, but it’s good and refreshing on the hot days we have a lot around here. There’s also many different way sit can be enjoyed. Try mixing with a little mint, berries or sparkling water.

Step 1: follow the steps to make lemon juice above.

Step 2: for each cup of juice, put a cup of sugar, a cup of water and 3 teaspoons of lemon zest in a pot and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat and mix in the lemon juice.

Step 3: at this point you can mix about 2 cups with enough water or juice or sparkling water to make a half gallon of lemonade. Chill and enjoy. Or it can be divided into 2 cup portions and frozen or bottled for future use.

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