Zest it harder, make it better, juice it faster, makes us stronger.
November 14, 2010 1:34 PM   Subscribe

When life gives you lemons, what else do you make?

I've just moved into a new apartment, and out over the back patio is a giant lemon tree, covered in green & yellow fruit. Awesome! Now what do I do?

Hivemind, give me your lemony-fresh recipes and guidance for all things lemon. Assume I'm a reasonably competent cook/baker, and I'm already making limoncello. I've got a reasonable set of kitchen and baking tools at my disposal, but no juicer (although I could be convinced). I'm looking for recipes that both feature lemons and are substantially enhanced by having fresh lemons around.

What would you make?
What else do I need to know about picking lemons? Will they all ripen at once this winter at some point?
Once I use up all the yellow ones with your awesome recipes, should I be picking the green ones and curing them indoors?

P.S. - The house I'm staying in has a gardener, so I don't need tree maintenance tips.
posted by deludingmyself to Home & Garden (55 answers total) 38 users marked this as a favorite
Lemon drizzle cake.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 1:36 PM on November 14, 2010 [2 favorites]

Chicken piccata.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 1:37 PM on November 14, 2010

Shaker lemon pie is pretty darn tasty. And lemony.
posted by hattifattener at 1:38 PM on November 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Avgolemono. Soup of the gods.
posted by MonkeyToes at 1:41 PM on November 14, 2010 [6 favorites]

Citrus can only ripen on the tree, so don't pick the green ones. If it doesn't get too cold, the fruit will ripen eventually.
posted by zsazsa at 1:41 PM on November 14, 2010

preserve them.
posted by wocka wocka wocka at 1:42 PM on November 14, 2010 [3 favorites]

Don't bother with a juicer -- just throw them in the blender with sugar and water. Like this (link gleaned via previous Ask, but can't remember which)
posted by kmennie at 1:43 PM on November 14, 2010 [7 favorites]

Try Lemon curd

Or you could also make preserved lemons and use them in tagine throughout the year.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 1:45 PM on November 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

posted by mollymayhem at 1:48 PM on November 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

Try one with miracle fruit!
posted by amro at 1:48 PM on November 14, 2010

Best answer: Oh god don't do the blender thing! Seeds, peel and pith are BITTER! Do, however, zest lemons that you juice, and freeze the zest.
posted by mollymayhem at 1:49 PM on November 14, 2010

Lemon sorbet!
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:50 PM on November 14, 2010

2nd Lemon sorbet. Also, when juicing lemons make sure they are WARM! - microwave them if needed for a second. Juicing cold lemons (or any citrus really) is 3 times as much work.
posted by Brent Parker at 1:54 PM on November 14, 2010

Preserved lemons!
posted by flippant at 1:55 PM on November 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: When I was in southern Italy a few years ago, I had a dish that consisted of a large piece of fresh mozzarella (a puck probably about the size of a fillet mignon) wrapped in lemon leaves and grilled. The lemon leaves infused a citrus essence into the cheese which contrasted perfectly with the mild saltiness of mozzarella. Melty heaven. I've been trying to recreate it for years, but without access to lemon leaves, it's never been possible. You could probably do it on a grill pan or in one of those George Foreman thingies.
posted by Sara C. at 1:58 PM on November 14, 2010 [4 favorites]

Some variations on pickled lemons.

I also second the chicken piccata idea!
posted by kagredon at 2:00 PM on November 14, 2010

Lemmoncello makes a wonderous cordial. Or juice the whole lemon with other greens and carrots.
posted by Pecantree at 2:06 PM on November 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I would personally acquire a Microplane (if I did not already own like four of 'em) and focus on zesting EVERY SINGLE lemon which passed through my hands, then freezing the zest. Lemon juice is all fine and well, but the zest is a GLORIOUS addition to more or less anything, and you'll be able to use it long after your tree is past its yearly bearing period.
posted by julthumbscrew at 2:11 PM on November 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

Hummus made with fresh squeezed lemon juice is excellent.
posted by stubborn at 2:21 PM on November 14, 2010

Lemon bars.
posted by scruss at 2:29 PM on November 14, 2010

Lemon meringue pie.
posted by lobstah at 2:32 PM on November 14, 2010

I agree with Scruss on the Lemon bars. Try these in particular.
posted by just_ducky at 2:39 PM on November 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

Squeeze it on salmon with a little butter.

Also, I love the way you phrased that.
posted by you're a kitty! at 2:46 PM on November 14, 2010

Best answer: You say you don't have a juicer; I hope you DO have a lemon reamer. I thought it was unnecessary until I lived with someone who had one. No, turns out I need it.
posted by teragram at 2:58 PM on November 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

Lemon Thins [pdf] on page 49, probably other lemon cookie recipes in that file too but I'm too lazy to search.
posted by Confess, Fletch at 3:06 PM on November 14, 2010

Don't throw out those lemon peels!
Make lemon flavoured sugar - it smells absolutely divine and you can use it on everything.
posted by leigh1 at 3:13 PM on November 14, 2010

Dip one side of cleaned leaves in melted semisweet chocolate then peel off the leaves when cool. These make terrific garnishes for desserts, especially chocolate mousse.

Lemon Squares - the kind that are lemon curd over baked shortbread are terrific. I'be seen a bunch of similar recipes, but if you want, I can dig out the family recipe (now in its 4th generation).

You can squeeze the juice and fill ice cube trays for when you can't get fresh.
posted by plinth at 3:18 PM on November 14, 2010

Make a dutch baby (puff pancake) or crepes and then squeeze lemon juice over it and top with powdered sugar.
posted by belau at 3:22 PM on November 14, 2010

The Citrus Cookbook by Coralie Dorman is great and full of awesome citrus recipes.
posted by leigh1 at 3:24 PM on November 14, 2010

Response by poster: Julthumbscrew, I love the idea of grating & freezing zest. I do have a microplane grater, but its holes are somewhat large (think thinly shredded parmesan vs. finely grated). Does anyone have a favorite zester with fine holes?
posted by deludingmyself at 3:26 PM on November 14, 2010

1. Gin and tonic with a slice of lemon.
2. Gin over ice with fresh lemon juice.
3. Tom Collins - gin, lemon juice, sugar syrup and soda water.
4. Dry martini shaken with some lemon rind in the shaker and served with a curly twist of lemon rind.

So yeah, you might need to go out and buy some gin.
posted by tim_in_oz at 4:01 PM on November 14, 2010

Best answer: This gets asked a lot! Here's my comment in a recent question, which links to five previous similar questions.
posted by jocelmeow at 4:02 PM on November 14, 2010

I made this whole lemon tart this weekend (does use the whole lemon in the blender approach but with seeds picked out, was not bitter to me, just yummy and lemony).
posted by hilaryjade at 4:29 PM on November 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Lemon Pound Cake

1# unsalted butter
2 2/3 cups sugar
6 eggs
6 egg yolks
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon salt
4 large lemons
3 cups flour

Heat oven to 325°.
Grease two 9” x 5” x 2.5” loaf pans and line with parchment paper.

Start by getting all the ingredients ready:
Using a paring knife, peel just the zest off the 4 lemons; mince fine—should make about ½ a cup. Put zest in a bowl in your work area. Set aside the sadly denuded lemons for simple syrup.
In a 4-cup mixing cup with spout, whisk together eggs, vanilla and water. Place with lemon zest in work area.
Measure sugar into a bowl and put with the other prepared ingredients.
Measure flour into a bowl and put with the other prepared ingredients.
Measure salt into a bowl and put with the other prepared ingredients.

Chuck the four sticks of butter into large mixing bowl. Beat on medium-high speed until all fluffed up. Add sugar over the course of about 30 seconds to a minute, then blend mixture until smooth and fluffy and nearly white—this takes a while, maybe 5 minutes? Begin adding egg mixture in a thin stream while beating at medium-high, stopping the stream while continuing to blend when the egg you’ve added has gotten ahead of you and is pooling a little. Basically, I think you’re emulsifying the mixture at this point, which makes it very smooth and fluffy. When all the egg is incorporated, add salt and lemon zest. Sprinkle 1/3 of the flour over the mixture and fold in. Repeat twice more to incorporate all the flour; don’t overwork!

Divide mixture between the two prepared pans. Bake approximately 75-80 minutes until a tester inserted in the long crack in the middle of the top crust comes out clean. Remove from oven to cooling rack.

Prepare simple syrup: Juice the 4 naked lemons; add water to make 2 cups. In medium saucepan, stir juice/water with 4 cups sugar over medium-high heat until it boils; boil a couple seconds to be sure all the sugar crystals are dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool 10 to 15 minutes. Remove cakes from their pans and peel off parchment. Place in 9” x 13” pan. Poke holes down through tops of cakes with bamboo skewer without puncturing bottom crust. Droozle syrup over top slowly, repeating obsessively until all syrup is used up. A little may remain in the bottom of the 9” x 13”; it’s okay to throw that away. Let cool, then haul those gems out of the pan and wrap them thoroughly in plastic wrap.

Serve slices with sliced fresh strawberries and a dollop of barely-sweetened whipped cream.

These freeze well, so eat one and stash one for surprise company.
posted by miss patrish at 4:42 PM on November 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

Lemon spaghetti! This is the recipe I use—a friend got me hooked on it in college, and now it's a staple in my house.
posted by limeonaire at 4:50 PM on November 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

Also, lemon squeezed on pita with chicken kebabs is excellent!
posted by limeonaire at 4:54 PM on November 14, 2010

Best answer: This thread is making me sooooo envious of your lemon tree! :)

I bought a lemon squeezer specifically for ease of making this recipe: SUPER QUICK AWESOME GARLIC SPINACH SOBA NOODLES. The fresh lemon really makes the dish in my opinion.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 5:03 PM on November 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

1st link should go here: lemon squeezer
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 5:20 PM on November 14, 2010

Response by poster: Jocelmeow, thanks for the back-links. I've looked through them a bit, but thought the fun of actually having a tree vs. a windfall lends itself to some more week to week lemon-related planning! But I thoroughly acknowledge the overlap.

Serene Empress Dork, that's the second link to those soba noodles I've seen this week. Must try!

Teragram, I have now ordered a reamer. Thank you.

Everyone else: this is fantastic.
posted by deludingmyself at 5:24 PM on November 14, 2010

Best answer: > Lemon bars

Specifically, Ina Garten's or Cook's Illustrated. Ina's are the only ones that have ever done me right, in that they really do taste strongly of lemon, not just saccharine-y sweet. (And actually, Ina loves lemons period; Joyce Goldstein does too...they use the zest and juice in just about every damn thing, and you'll find it's an addictive practice--we burn through sacks of lemons each week, which is costly...you're lucky!)

Nthing most of what was said above. Limoncello, avgolemono, frozen twists for martinis (my preferred garnish, no lie), lemon curd, acting as the acid in simple homemade vinaigrettes (make sure to use the same night though), in marinades for chicken or vegetables before you grill/skewer, preserved lemons (so awesome with grilled or roasted meat), as the main flavoring ingredient in sumptuous Mediterranean/Middle Eastern stuff like chicken tagine (Sam Gugino's is my favorite), apple dishes (you almost always use lemon juice and zest before baking to keep the apples fresh tasting and not brown), palate-cleansing ices and sorbets (handy between courses for the huge feasts that come this time of year), lemon cake (works well with certain liqueur cakes too--I made a St. Germain sponge cake last summer that used a fresh lemon cake base, Ina's IIRC, and then treated it like rum cake, pricked and soaked in lemon syrup), some sort of ad-libbed Charlotte Russe-type thing with lemon syrup-soaked ladyfingers, etc. Roast chicken LOVES lemon by the way--Ina's is once again my favorite take, but Rao's has a great one too. Oh, and before you roast broccoli with garlic, toss with lemon and olive oil, yum. Mediterranean dishes are your best bet--lemons are a star flavoring and tenderizing ingredient in most everything.
posted by ifjuly at 5:56 PM on November 14, 2010

Oh, and what about lemon flan?
posted by ifjuly at 6:10 PM on November 14, 2010

And lemon chess pie.
posted by ifjuly at 6:11 PM on November 14, 2010

I love this book so much.


Luscious Lemon Desserts by Lori Longbotham. I've loved everything I've tried from it.
posted by R a c h e l at 6:28 PM on November 14, 2010

Also, as far as zesting, a classic microplane really is the way to go (they also make a zester-specific one - I think the holes are the same size though). I'm not sure if the one you have is the 'normal' kind, but really, microplanes blow other zesters out of the water.
posted by R a c h e l at 6:30 PM on November 14, 2010

44-clove garlic soup (I also make it when life gives me garlic). Tastes shockingly fresh and healthy and not garlicky in the traditional sense of the world. Using a serated spoon, I dig out chunks of lemon flesh and use quite a bit more than the recipe calls for.
posted by acidic at 8:22 PM on November 14, 2010

Best answer: lemony self links (the cookies, especially, get rave reviews, and have been successfully mailed across the country with no adverse impact)
posted by spinturtle at 9:59 PM on November 14, 2010

Best answer: To pick lemons, you want to give them a slight tug. If they don't fall off, they aren't ripe. (And they don't ripen off the tree.)
posted by kjs4 at 1:17 AM on November 15, 2010

Oh god don't do the blender thing! Seeds, peel and pith are BITTER!

Have you actually tried it...?

The 'bitter' there is quite popular -- see in particular
posted by kmennie at 6:51 AM on November 15, 2010

You should make baked lemon pasta, it's so freaking delicious.
posted by zoetrope at 7:07 AM on November 15, 2010

Oh god don't do the blender thing! Seeds, peel and pith are BITTER!

Have you actually tried it...?

I wonder if the difference in opinion is based on the different types of lemons/limes. Sometimes when I buy lemons the peel is very thin and soft and just a quick covering for the fruit, but sometimes it is thick (1/2 inch) and hard and really white. Limes usually are thinner, too. Just a guess, but I would be much more inclined to put the thin soft peels in the blender.
posted by CathyG at 7:18 AM on November 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

Lemon salad dressing. It's like vinaigrette but with lemon juice providing the sour. Lemonaigrette.
posted by workerant at 9:31 AM on November 15, 2010

Response by poster: Marked some favorites of things that hadn't necessarily occurred to me on my own, but this thread has so many fantastic ideas. Thanks, everyone!
posted by deludingmyself at 4:22 PM on November 15, 2010

Lemon Mousse
posted by (Over) Thinking at 6:20 PM on November 15, 2010

Candied lemon peel.
posted by benzenedream at 10:54 AM on November 16, 2010

Thought of something else...these Lemony Sage and Basil-Flecked Cookies are unusual and pretty good. I made them a few years ago for the holidays (think I found them through AskMe actually). Mine looked like this.
posted by ifjuly at 10:59 AM on November 16, 2010

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