Lemons are awesome!
When the days are short and the nights are long and my inclination is to hibernate beneath the individually stitched quilts that lie enticingly across my bed (thanks, Mum!) the lemon tree is a bright and shining light in the winter garden.
Lemons are packed with Vitamin C and they were historically grown on ships to help prevent scurvy. They’re very acidic and both the fruit and the flowers are highly scented.
The humble lemon is also high in potassium--so drinking a glass of hot water in the morning with a slice of lemon in it is one of the ways that you can make sure that you get your daily dose of this essential mineral.
A pH of 2-3 and approximately 5% citric acid is responsible for giving lemon juice its signature tart flavour. Lemons can be found in most foods throughout the world, but there’s more to being an accompaniment to a fish dish for this garden overachiever.
As a side note, my lemon tree originally lived (very happily) in a half wine barrel on my deck for many years. Lemons are gross feeders--which means that they need plenty of citrus fertilizer to keep them producing well. If you’re going to keep a lemon in a pot, it will produce for you for many years, but I’d highly recommend making sure that you fertilize well with a good liquid citrus fertilizer.
Here are a few of the things that I like to do with the abundance of lemons that come from my small lemon tree.
Instant Lemon Dressing
One of my favourite things to do with lemons is to squeeze the juice of a couple of large lemons into a jar and then add an equal part virgin olive oil. Whisk the mixture together with a crushed clove of garlic (or two), a dash of salt and about half a teaspoon of ground tumeric.
I have an instant lemon dressing/sauce that I can add to hot dishes, or salads (yes, we still eat lots of salads in winter…) and it will keep in the fridge for about a week. Not that ours ever lasts that long!
We don’t drink sugary drinks in this house (gasp) and we don’t drink alcohol either--so we’ve spent years working out what kind of cold drinks we want to eat with our meals. If we have lemons and sparkling water on hand, then we have a satisfying drink to go with our meals.
Simply cut a wedge of lemon and give it a quick squeeze into your glass. You can run the flesh around the rim of the glass if you like, and then drop the squashed quarter into the glass. Pour over sparkling water, add ice and a sprig of green (parsley, or mint, or maybe even an edible flower) and you have an attractive and refreshing cool drink to have with your meal.
We simply could not survive without our fizzy water. My dear husband has to make sure that we have backup gas canisters in the garage at all times! Us, addicted! Haha!
Hot Lemon & Ginger
One of my favourite go to recipes which it’s cold and I can feel the start of a winter bug trying to get a grip. It’s a soothing hot drink and great for a pickup if you’re trying to cut down on your coffee consumption.
The aromatic scent of this is AMAZING…
Makes two (approx) 250ml cups
1 unpeeled sprig of fresh ginger (about the size of your thumb)
Juice of two lemons
4 slices of lemon
2 tablespoons of honey (if you don’t want to use honey, use maple syrup, but try and stay away from sugar)
Slice the ginger into thin strips and divide between the two tall glasses or mugs. Add the lemon juice, honey and lemon slices.
Just cover with boiling water and stir.
Stand for a couple of minutes (like you would for a cup of tea). This allows the fragrances and flavours to mingle--and the house to fill with the gorgeous scent of lemon and ginger. BONUS!
Top up with hot water and stir.
I like to serve this in a tall (heatproof) glass or tumbler on a saucer. You’ll need to add a teaspoon, because you’re going to want to give the tea a stir as you drink it. This prevents the flavours becoming too strong as you get to the bottom of the cup.
Rice is one of my staples and I love finding lots of different ways of giving it an extra flavour.
Squeezing a lemon into the cooking water and grating some of the rind into the cooking water gives rice an extra dimension.
You can also add some grated rind to the cooked rice if you’re looking for an extra zing.
Simply rub your kitchen cutting boards with a fresh slice of lemon. Leave for a few minutes and then wash in the usual way. This is one of my favourite ways of keeping my cutting boards clean and sanitary.
So, there you have it!
Five quick and simple ways with the humble (overachieving) lemon.
If you have ideas to share, pop them in the comments--I'd love to hear from you.
Lots of love,