When Life Gives You Lemons….

The saying, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade” is a little unfair to these amazingly versatile citrus miracles! It implies that lemons are possibly an unwanted gift of life! I couldn’t imagine a meal without a generous squeeze of lemon drizzled over it…..we have two lemon trees, and a Tahitian Lime, which provide us with a trusty dash of flavour in our kitchen, all year round. What’s more, nothing need be wasted!!

We have an old lemon tree which we inherited, and it’s fruit is drier, with a hard, bitter outer peel. We planted a Meyer Lemon about 10 years ago, and while still just a little over a metre and a half, it is a prolific producer, with huge orangey-yellow fruit that has a thick , soft and delectable outer skin. I often cut huge tracts of peel to offer to unsuspecting guests. I try to persuade them to give my “lemon lollies” a try, and they tentatively give the skin the tiniest of nibbles, expecting a bitter burn. They are almost always pleasantly surprised at how sweet the skin is! When I offer kindergarten children (I am a teacher) my “lemon lollies”, they eat with relish, scoffing whole tracts of skin eagerly, and holding out their hands, they demand more, much to the surprise of their gaping-mouthed mothers!

Now whether or not you have the edible Meyer Lemon in your backyard, the skins are still not to be discarded unceremoniously, as they make the most incredible lemon preserve or pickle! And it is dead-easy! Anyone can make it, all you need is a sharp knife, some salt and a clean glass jar, oh, and a little patience!

Lemon Pickle

First up, once you have removed the juice, pull the fruit leftover off of the pith, till you have just the skin and white pith.

You can cut it up into slices or chunks, there is no skill required here.

Place the skin into the glass jar, sprinkling a little salt over the skins, continue to layer more skins, sprinkling salt over each layer. Again, there is no definite rule, use more salt if you like salty pickles, less if that is what you prefer. In a 240ml jar, I would use maybe 1 1/2 tspn salt. I like to use Himalayan or pink salt, as it has many more beneficial minerals than just plain, cheap snow-white cooking salt (which is pure sodium chloride, and not the healthiest salt choice).

Layer your lemon peel in the glass jar, with sprinkles of salt between layers.
Keep layering till the jar is full.
Use a tamper or something similar to push the peel down, until you can no longer fit anymore peel in. Label and date the pickle. This pickle will keep indefinitely in your pantry.

Leave the salted peel on a sunny windowsill for about 2 weeks, shaking daily.
This is where the patience comes in.

This salty pickle is used sparingly as an addition to any meal needing a bit of zing, and goes especially well with a good curry! Easy peasy to make! Try bottling up a few for gifts! Cheap, but certainly rich-tasting and delicious!

Now, onto other realms of lemon skin wonders…….Tired of expensive, toxic house hold cleaners? Another use for those unwanted lemon skins is to make a cleaner out of them.

Citrus Wipe

Fill a large glass jar with a litre of white vinegar.

Remove the squished fruit leftovers from inside the juiced citrus fruit.

Place unwanted lemon peels carefully into the jar. Any citrus skins will do, orange, grapefruit or lemon.

When you have 2-3 fruits worth of peel submerged in the vinegar, cover and place jar in a sunny spot. Shake every couple of days to release the essential oils from the peels.

After 3-4 days, you can drain the peels, sieve the remaining citrus-saturated vinegar into a spray bottle.

Optional extra: to increase the citrus smell and decrease the vinegar smell, add 4-5 drops of lemon essential oil to the blend. Screw on the spray top and you’re ready to clean! The added benefit is that flies don’t like to land on surfaces cleaned with this citrus wipe!

I just had to share these pics! When collecting lemons a week ago, I found a nest belonging to a Blackbird! Such delight when I discovered 4 beautiful speckled turquoise eggs!

The nest in my lemon tree shows how enterprising the Blackbird is, weaving into his nest a plastic bag! A sad indictment on our impact on the environment! But the lemons provide a good foundation for this nest, in which the Blackbird and her mate may lay 3-4 clutches of eggs during the season! I shall have to wait patiently before picking these particular lemons!!

All’s good! Lemons are versatile that way!

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