Several years ago, we decided to plant a Meyer’s Lemon Tree. It was a scrawny thing–resembling Charlie Brown’s Christmas Tree.
Maybe not all that scrawny! We were delighted to find about half a dozen lemons on it the first year–huge sweet lemons. A few more would have been nice–this was enough for lemon slices in water or tea and embellishing fish. We thought perhaps double that amount would be appropriate.
The next year we got our wish–I had a whole drawer in my refrigerator dedicated to lemons–they lasted nearly a year with only a few tossed in the end due to soft spots.
The following year the crop doubled and I had more lemons than I could fit into my refrigerator. Someone told me about freezing them–and so I gave it a try. Good for squeezing the juice over fish or baking with blueberries but not good for slices in water or tea or that particularly odd thing of putting a slice in a bottle of beer.
We tried a recipe for Shaker lemon pie—a pie made with paper thin slices of lemons soaked in sugar for 36 hours or so and baked in a two crust pie tin—it was wonderful but there are only so many pies two vintage persons can consume.
In spite of our odd weather for two years running and a vegetable garden that yielded two tomatoes and some lettuce, the lemon tree outdid itself this year. We had been picking one or two for table use, still green but quite satisfactory–now the branches were threatening to break. We picked two huge bags of lemons and left another third on the tree.
What to do with all those lemons?
And even worse, at a Christmas party, someone with the same dilemma gave everyone a large bag of lemons! Wish I’d thought of that first.
I considered the anonymous dropping off of lemons at various neighbor’s houses–ended up giving them a jar of my honey and a few lemons–perfect for winter colds. They were on their own for the whiskey addition.
But I still had a lot of lemons left. And more on the tree.
We now have two jars of pickled lemons made with an exorbitant amount of salt to be used in cooking sometime in February. The recipe called for cutting a cross into them, filling it with salt and sticking it into a Mason jar—I tried that but the lemons were far too large and I had to cut them into quarters just to fit them into the jars.
Then I tried making some marmalade.
This involves cutting up the lemons, soaking them in sugar for an extended time and then boiling off the liquid—-and playing where’s Waldo finding the seeds. My mother always put a small amount of whatever jelly she was making into a small cup for tasting–and so I did the same–except I was much lazier and just left a bit in the bottom of the pan.
Real hot biscuits or English muffins would have been better for taste testing but it was quite nice on a piece of whole wheat toast–certainly awakening the tasters.
And maybe another Shaker Lemon Pie is in the near future.
You inspire me! Our Meyer lemon tree is still in the Charlie Brown phase, but hopefully next year it will produce. Those lemons in the bowl literally made me salivate – they look so fresh and wonderful. Have you tried freezing the juice in ice trays and then transferring to freezer bags? That’s what I did with my oranges last year and I had orange juice available all year for recipes.
I did scrape the zest off one year and put the naked lemons in the freezer—but I still have quite a few left despite giving a bag to my friend whose tree produced only a handful. But I still have a third of the lemons on the tree so may consider that an option. It seems that I am more willing to experiment when it is something I have picked from my own garden than bought in the store—not to mention the flavor.