LEMONS – DRIED, SALTED, SUGARED

June 2013 – We have loads of lemons. Each year at lemon time we always have lots of lemons but this year the trees are so loaded that the branches are reaching down to the ground. I have had to pick a fair few of them just to stop the branches from breaking. Now I have a wheelbarrow full of lemons and need to do something with them, plus we will still have loads to pick over the next three months.

DRIED LEMONS

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Why dry lemons?

They dry beautifully, provide you with lemon flavour throughout the year, re-hydrate well, look great in drinks, particularly in sangria or punch and can be taken to work in a plastic bag, kept in the drawer and a slice added to your glass of water. I just top my glass up with water during the day and the lemon slice lasts most of the day.

I’ve contemplated re-hydrating them in tequila, draining, sprinkling with salt and eating.

These are beautiful items and I can understand why people use them as Christmas Decorations. In Sydney humidity I don’t know how they would last. If I were to try this I would ensure that they are completely dry and attach strings then dip into clear estapol or paint with watered down Aquadhere. Something to try for Christmas.

Much of the information on the internet on drying lemons mentions that they go quite dark, mine are beautiful and didn’t darken. I believe that it has something to do with the heat – drying them first on high, turning off over night then drying on low temperature and then finishing off on high. Starting in the afternoon it took me almost three days and two nights. I only run the dehydrator during the sunlight hours, when the solar panels are compensating for the electricity being generated.

Method

Lemons on dehydrator

  • Quantity – I did three lemons in this example, it made one jar
  • Wash the lemons well (particularly if they are not home grown)
  • Slice the lemons about 3mm thick – use a mandolin
  • Lay out on the dehydrator and turn on high for 5 hours, then on to low for 8 hours, when they feel dry – squeeze – no moisture should come out and they are almost brittle – turn on to high to finish off. Leave off during the night to simulate outside drying.
  • When cooled pack into a jar.

LEMON SALT

Lemon zest for lemon saltLemon and salt ready to be mixed together

I didn’t realise how good this would be until I made it. You still get a salt flavour but it is mixed with so much lemon that you actually only use about half the quantity of salt per serve. I have used it rubbed into chicken, pork, prawns and fish, added it to salads, and sprinkled on anything else that needed a bit of a kick. I am now off – I will try the same with my tangellos and see what happens.

Method

Mix the zest from three lemons with three tablespoons of non-iodised salt (I chose it because it was a bit coarser, however I’m sure that or any salt, fancy or not would work) rubbing it all together.

Place on an oven tray and heat at 150ºC until dry. It doesn’t take long so keep a close eye on it. Remove and when cool bottle.

Next time I have the dehydrator going I will try it in that.

SUGAR SALT and LEMON PEPPER SALT

Drying the salts/sugars on a baking trayThe final result

These are exactly the same as the lemon salt –

The sugar salt can be made with white sugar or raw sugar for a maltier taste, the pepper should be made with ground pepper so either wear out your hand, buy it pre-ground, crush it in a spice or coffee grinder or blitz it with a stick blender. You could even try a mortar and pestle.

 FROZEN LEMONS, LIMES AND TANGELLOS

I tried this last year and it works. At this time of the year the supply of lemons seems endless. The bottles of lemon juice are no substitute so when there are no fresh lemons it is easy to go to the freezer, zap one in the microwave and squeeze out your fresh tasting  juice. They can’t be used for zest but are great on fish, in tabbouleh and hummus and for salads. This year I have already got a stack of limes  and soon will add the lemons.

Since I am doing so much with the zest that I am thinking of removing the zest for more of the above and to make some lemoncello and freezing the zestless lemons in halves since the zest on a frozen lemon isn’t much good. I am not interested in freezing squeezed lemon juice, a bit of a waste of time.

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