This is the time of year that lemons are ripe and ready to be picked here in Louisiana. So, I’ve been reading up on the various ways to preserve these tasty fruits. There are so many easy ways to preserve them and even more ways to use them.
The simplest way to preserve a lemon is cut it into quarters and slices, place on a cookie sheet to freeze individually, then transfer to a airtight container or Ziploc until you are ready for use. Any recipe that calls for slices of lemon are at your fingertips and ice cold water in the summer is a refreshing drink with lemon wedges added to it.
Whole lemons can be frozen as well. Although they may be a bit more soft when thawed, they will juice real well. You can even zest a frozen lemon! To thaw a frozen whole lemon, place in cold water for 15 minutes and proceed as usual.
Juice your lemons and freeze in ice cube trays, then when frozen transfer to a Ziploc for easy individual use. A regular ice cube tray holds two tablespoons of juice. You can use the juice to pour over other fruits to keep those fruits from discoloring. You can gargle with equal parts lemon juice and water to ease a sore throat. Eating a lemon wedge or sucking it’s juices can help cure scurvy, a common infection overseas for those of you that travel.
Zesting lemons is another way to preserve the flavor you long for, with a punch! The oils from the sexted rind are intense and can add an intense flavor to any meal, or baked good. If cooking with zest add it to the end of cooking. Zest only the color of the rind because the white pith will make dishes bitter. Store unused zest in a Ziploc, and again you can freeze this too.
Some final tips:
- Adding juice during cooking contributes a bright, tanginess but little fruit flavor.
- Never add juice to a still cooking sauce, add it after you remove the sauce, stew or gravy from the heat.
- Add zest to get the impact, and add it toward the end of cooking for more impact.
- Lemon wedges can also be preserved for use in Moroccan and African meals, as well as baked or grilled fish. (Look for the recipe to preserve lemons in the near future)
- Lemon juice can be added to vinegar for a household cleaner
- Drop a lemon rind or two in the garbage disposal for cleaning.
- dry some lemon rinds after you’ve juiced them and use them as a fire starter with a great scent.