I can’t imagine my kitchen without lemons in it. First of all, they are such a happy colour!
And secondly, they are such a wonderfully versatile fruit. From lemon curd to a lemon vinaigrette, lemons can do just about anything. Chicken and lemon is a classic flavour pairing. Lemon risotto, lemon pasta, lemon meringue pie; from appetizers to dessert, lemons will gladly play a humble or major flavour roll. And if you search using ‘Lemon’ you will discover that a rather large portion of this blog contains lemons in some way, shape or form!
Every week I pick up a bag or two of organic lemons. These days the cost for those bags has gotten much more reasonable. In fact, there are times of the year when I can pick up that bag of organic lemons for $3.00! Usually $5.00 is what I pay at my local organic fruit and veg. For organic, I’m pretty content with the cost. But in case you do have to pay more, you really don’t want to waste any of those bright orbs. The challenge for me used to be, using up all the lemons before one of them decided to turn mouldy. And it would happen overnight. I would look at the lemons on the counter, and they all looked perfect, that happy yellow beaming back at me. But the next time I looked down, one had turned 🙁
Along with using lemons in recipes, we always have a large pitcher or jar of lemon water on the counter that we drink from daily.
How to make Lemon Water: 1 large pitcher of purified or filtered water, 2-3 lemons, zested and sliced. Zest and slices are added to the water. Keep it on the counter. As the water goes down, we keep topping it up. After three days, we start over with fresh lemons. So when one of those lemons that I was counting on using suddenly is of no use to me, it got rather frustrating. Jim swears that this lemon water is what has kept him from catching a serious cold or flu in over four years! I won’t disagree! Lemons are healthy, can aid in digestion, help with liver cleansing, ph balance etc, so if it is a choice of plain water, or lemon water, why not choose lemon water?
So this is what I started doing. I call it my Lemon Prep day. When I come home from the market with 2 or so bags of lemons I prepare them for all the different roles they may play throughout the week. Knowing what recipes I will be making does help in this case. Will I need fresh juice more than once throughout the week? How much juice will I need? After figuring that out, I will set aside 1 or more lemons for reaming. At this time you could also put some aside for a lovely, bright lemon vinaigrette, make that up, and your salad dressing needs have now been filled.
How to make the most of all those lemons:
First thing I do is zest all the lemons I purchase. This zest goes into a freezer safe container. There is usually zest already in it from the previous week, but that’s fine. All the zest keeps wonderfully in the freezer. Then when I need some for my lemon water (zest contains nutrients that aren’t in the juice, so we just drink the zest in the water) I take some out of that container. Or what if a recipe calls for 1 tbsp of lemon zest? Done, no need to zest a lemon on the spot any more! Just take it from the freezer.
After zesting, I decide how many lemons I need to juice for the week (see above) This juice goes into a glass jar in the fridge. The rest of the lemons will get sliced into 1/4 inch thickness. These will get laid out on parchment or wax paper lined baking sheets, in one layer. The baking sheets go into the freezer. Once they have all frozen individually, I peel them off the paper and add them to a large freezer bag of lemon slices. These all stay in the freezer till needed for water or cocktails, lemonade, etc. Because I had them pre-frozen, they won’t all freeze together in one large lump in the freezer. This way separating the ones I need is a breeze.
I mentioned Lemon Vinaigrette above. There is nothing quite as fresh and simple as this dressing:
All you need is lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper, and maybe some minced garlic. It is one part lemon juice to 3 parts olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Store in a glass jar in the fridge for the week.
One more thing you can make with the sliced lemons: Preserved Lemons. The recipe I’ve recently discovered is by Stephanie of the Cook By Color Nutrition blog. Her recipe is so easy, based on her Moroccan roots, that it just seemed the perfect time to share it now. It is below. Oh, and when you have made the preserved lemons, and find yourself with leftover salt used to coat the lemons, save it in a small bowl etc to use throughout the week. The ever so slight lemony flavour will work wonderfully on most savoury applications.
So, no more mouldy lemons. There is always lemon zest in the freezer for recipes. There is always lemon juice in the fridge for vinaigrettes etc. And all it takes is a little time each week dedicated to lemon prep. You already know I’m a tad of a kitchen geek, (see my Butter Prep post!) so does going through this ritual really surprise you?! Actually, and not surprisingly, so many of you have asked if my lemon prep procedure is on the blog. It is saved as a Story on my Instagram profile page. But now you can all find it here as well! Making lemonade out of lemons is just a practical outlook on life!
A most simple and fabulous Moroccan preserved lemon recipe. Sliced lemons are rolled in salt, pressed into a glass jar, with fresh rosemary and topped with more juice. In a few weeks you have a perfect addition to dressings, fish, chicken, dips, even mayo.
- Steralized Glass Jar(s) with tight lid(s)
- Kosher salt
- lemons amount will depend on the size of the jar(s) you are using
- fresh rosemary sprigs
Place a good amount of salt in a shallow bowl. Refill as needed.
Slice the lemons into 1/2 inch thick pieces
Going individually, place each lemon slice into the salt, push down gently to coat well on both sides.
Place each slice into the jar you are using. Create one tight layer, and then add one sprig of rosemary.
Continue with all the slices, pushing down firmly to release the juices with your fingers.
Repeat until you have reached the top of the jar, packing them in as tightly as possible. Add juice if necessary to the top to ensure that all the slices are completely covered.
If necessary, take a lemon half as a wedge, placing this on top of everything. It will hold everything down once the lid pushes down on it. This lemon wedge will not be used in cooking, it will have to be discarded, but everything underneath will be fine.
Seal tightly and leave the jar in a cool, dark spot to ferment for a minimum of 4 days. (you can go up to 10 days in a cooler climate)
Shake periodically throughout this time and burp the jar by loosening the lid and releasing any trapped air.
Refrigerate for three weeks before using.
This will keep for a long time in the fridge!
Save any leftover salt for use throughout the week- it will have a slight citrus note, but that will work wonderfully in so many applications!
Recipe by Stephanie of the Cook by Color Nutrition website