I’m not entirely sure how I ended up with so many lemons in the house, I think it may have been something to do with me asking the other half to get me pack of lemons to make lemon curd after our last supper club. ‘How many do you need?’ he asked me ‘Not sure, maybe its best to get me two packs’ I replied, expecting him to return with two packs of four organic lemons. I was slightly shocked when he walked in with twenty-four.
The receipt nowhere to be seen the heat was on for me to use them before they shrivelled and had to be composted. I used eight for my lemon curd, which left me pondering how to use the remaining sixteen.
Luckily I had a massive bottle of vodka in store (which wasn’t bought to drown my sorrows on a bad day, but with the intent of making some liqueur or other).
So I managed to use ten of those lemons making Limoncello, an Italian liqueur heralding from the Amalfi coast. It is traditionally served chilled as an after dinner drink, often in small ceramic glasses which have themselves been chilled. My sister bought me a bottle for my 40th (as part of a collection of liquors from Vom Fass…she knows me well!!!) and it’s lovely on its own or in citrussy cocktails.
It’s also very easy to make. You simply peel the skin (not the pith) from 10 lemons, preferably organic and unwaxed, which have been washed well and dried. Place skin in a tall jar with a screw lid. Then make a sugar-syrup with 12oz granulated sugar and 5fl oz water. Put the sugar in a small pan, add the water and melt sugar over a low heat. Keep stirring making sure it does not come to the boil. As the syrup begins to clear take off the heat and leave to cool.
Add a litre of cheap vodka to the lemon peel in the jar and when the syrup has cooled add that scraping in any solidified sugar which has stuck to the sides and the bottom of the pan. Store the jar in a cool dark cupboard for 50 days (give or take a few…it’s probably good to leave it longer) turning once a week. Bottle and drink (but not all at once). Also makes a nice present if you can bear to give it away!!
So that left me with six lemons, plus all of the skinned ones from the Limoncello. The next thing I made was a lemon seed cake. This is simply a variation on a classic Madeira cake recipe. Preheat the oven to gas mark 3, 170 degrees centigrade and then, cream 240g (8oz) unsalted butter with 210g (7oz) caster sugar add three large eggs then 90g (3oz) plain flour and 210g (7oz) self raising flour. Mix well (I use a food processor, such a cheat but so much easier). Then add the grated zest and juice of two lemons and 2 tablespoons of poppy seeds. Turn into a lined greased loaf tin and bake for about an hour or until a skewer stuck into the cake comes out clean.
One lemon and one of the skinned ones down, I was still left with five plus nine.
The only thing for it was more lemon curd. I used a different recipe this time as I was short on eggs, but I managed to slip in 5 of the skinless lemons (plus the rind of two), which still left me with four skinless ones and three complete. Finally my daughter claimed two for her surprise mother’s day meal for me.
I think there may be a couple of skinless ones lurking somewhere, but I’m glad I used most of them as I really hate waste and I guess I will squeeze the rest for salad dressing!!