When I say lemon do you think of wiggly cubes of Jello or sugary, artificially flavored fountain beverages? Yes? Well stop it, right now. RIGHT NOW!
Instead, think of nearly transparent panes of sliced lemon meringue or a gentle but fragrant rain of zest. For being unfortunately lump shaped, undeniably sour and otherwise unappealing lemons are an exceptional fruit! Just so, my fledgling romance has only recently left the nest. (The most romantic garden accompaniment ... you guessed it Lemon Trees!)
A year ago, well two years ago really *gulp*, I could count the number of times I bought a lemon on one hand. Other than to clean a bunch of grapes or to better preserve that "luxury item" the avocado, lemons were anywhere but on my radar. On an especially AC-free afternoon I might drink a glass of lemon water but that was it. In fact, I stayed away from lemons on campus at every turn, especially those pithy wrinkled wedges that collected near the fountain drinks in a little bowl of tepid water and, in my germaphobic subconscious, Hepatitis.
That is until I had the most wonderful drink at dinner hours before the finale of my college career. Maybe the fact that it was my so to speak "last supper" made it all the more pleasurable. Regardless, the heavens parted and spilled forth the most delicious ginger-infused vodka and lemoncello concoction known to mankind. Everything from the zippiness of the fresh juice to the saucy curl of zest was perfect, pure undeniable and never-again perfection. The ginger-infused vodka wasn't half bad either!
But, I was being seduced by the lemon not an inspired vodka. *Focus* With hundreds of flavor pairings (eggs, fish, pies, frosting, sauces, chicken) lemons are easily your most economical garnish/ingredient/seasoning. The catch? It can be difficult to find a good lemon in a world of imitation juices and less than perfect harvests. That and unlike a jar of cinnamon or a bottle of chili sauce lemons don't keep forever. More than one ambitious attempt ended in my unused lemons turning into little puckered gray rocks that were totally inedible. But, not so these days! With the collection of easy tips from Martha and CookingLight (and upcoming recipes) no lemon will ever go to the waste bin without being zested, juiced, sliced and sipped to it's (and your) hearts content.
Buy a lemon that is... heavy with smooth bright skin with no brown spots
Before using... the zest: wash the fruit (whole) with mild soap and water the juice: roll the lemon on the counter pushing down gently with your palm a lemon from the fridge: or a tough lemon: microwave the little booger for 10-20 seconds to get the juice flowing
Uses: Disinfect fruit: 1 large bowl water + juice of 1/2 a lemon + 1/4 tsp salt Reduce bloating: 1 glass water + 1-2 slices lemon Clean stainless steel pots: scrub with 1/2 a lemon, cut side dipped in salt Lemon-sugar: add lemon zest to a small jar of sugar and store, use as a garnish or in sweet recipes Brighten veggies: add the juice or zest to almost any green veg (broccoli, green beans, spinach) just before serving Perfume: dab lemon juice on like perfume for an age old trick to smelling pretty and fresh on the hottest days Open stuffy noses: add slices of organic lemon to a bowl of steaming water, cover your head with a towel and breath deeply for 10 minutes (plus, you get a mini facial)