We have often discussed, over dinner, the probability of tearing up the two ash trees in our backyard in order to plant ones that might be more useful than giving Scott an excuse to use the leaf blower. We would LOVE to have citrus trees, although the type is always difficult to select (we don't have room to plant all the varieties we actually want), and certainly the quantity of any tree's offerings can often be staggering.
Thankfully, we have a friend who offered to give us some lemons, and we were only too happy to accept.
Last week, we got a plastic grocery bag full, and when she said, "Do you want more?" I said, "Sure!" I had visions of several lemony treats dancing in my head. I love lemons for their versatility and the instant mood lift their color and fragrance gives me.
Well, today, that "more" arrived - in two large trash bags.
WOW, that is a LOT of lemons!
Let me back up for a moment. If you search for lemon recipes, you will likely come across several that specify Meyer lemons. The Meyer variety is NOT what grows in many Arizona backyards; in fact, Meyer lemons are illegal in the state of Arizona because it is known to harbor a disease that could devastate the citrus crop, one of the 4 C's that built this state. No, the lemons that we have all over our house are the Lisbon, a smooth-skinned and sour lemon.
I have quite a list of items, to which I already plan to add, that I am planning on making or am in the process thereof:
- lemon marmalade (this was tricky to find a recipe - most were Meyer lemon marmalades; note that the Meyer lemon CAN NOT be interchanged with any sour variety)
- lemon extract - did you know that most "pure" extracts contain HFCS? (I'm also planning on making vanilla extract once I get myself to the store and buy some vanilla beans)
- lemon sugar (also something of which I would like to have the vanilla variety)
- lemon butt chicken - that's right - lemon. butt. chicken.
- limoncello - gotta start it now so it's ready by the time the triple digits hit!
So, tonight, after a rather long Day 1 of potty training HRH, I decided to start tackling the list while Scott gave the princess her bath and put her to bed (I had taken Zooey on a run this afternoon, and it proved too hot for a black hound dog, but even though I had to cut it short for her, she was in NO mood - read "asleep" - to go for her usual evening walk/run).
First on the list: begin the marmalade.
The recipe that I am using (link/recipe to be posted in Part II of this saga - I hope) adds no store-bought pectin, which is why I selected it. One less item that I had to buy, and I'll be using the "bits" of the lemon instead - that means less waste!
After I sliced 7 lemons into pieces as thin as I could possibly slice without a mandoline (on my wish list for FOREVER), I placed them into water to soak overnight... good night, my pretties!
Once I put the slices in to rest, I turned my attention to the sugar. Three cups of sugar and the zest of three lemons later (I think I should add that I am MADLY in love with my Microplane®), I have lemon sugar.
However, adding lemon zest to sugar does create moisture, and it's important to make sure that the moisture is completely gone before storing. I spread my sugar in a pan, and in the morning, it should be dry enough to put in the crazily large canister that I purchased for this exact purpose (I didn't want to use too much sugar and not have enough for the marmalade tomorrow).
The last item of business for the night: lemon extract. This was easy - equal parts vodka and filtered water, and the roughly chopped peel (no pith!) of one lemon per cup of liquid.
I made a pint of extract, so I used two lemons.
Of course, this is NOT going to be ready right away... sigh... I hid it up in the cupboard above our refrigerator, although I am thinking that I need to move it, as I can already imagine my panic when I can't remember where I put it.
Now... I have five lemons, completely bereft of their skins/zest, sitting my my fridge, so I've got to get to the store to get myself a roaster. And I guess I could make some lemon curd. Or some lemonade. Or some... well, looks like my list is going to start growing pretty darn fast.