Thursday, February 10, 2011

when life deals you lemons...

Not many recipes begin with "Step 1: fly to Arizona" but on our recent trip out west Mom and I paid a visit to my cousin's house, or more specifically, his lemon trees.

We thought that we'd pick a few lemons, box them up and ship them home at a flat rate. Lemons are so expensive in Ohio, around 80 cents each, that we figured it'd be worth the trouble.

Despite my love for every- and anything lemon, I had no idea about how they grew. I figured they grew on trees somewhere vaguely south but as far as I was concerned, they might as well have been little zesty jewels filled with yummy wonder and sunshiney goodness magically delivered by citrus fairies. I just had never really thought about it. My best guess involved a yellower version of an apple tree, which has been the sum total of my experience with fruit trees thus far.

I wasn't too far off, except I wasn't prepared for just how many lemons a lemon tree can hold. Or how large lemons can become when they're allowed to fully ripen. My cousin's wife apologized for how small this year's lemons were, while holding a fruit about the size of a softball. I boggled...and quickly came to realize that the lemons I'd been loving and treasuring my entire life were just a sad parody of the real thing. (If you will, "lemons" vs. "LEMONS!!!!") I was standing in the sunshine picking fruit off its tree in January and my hands were sticky with lemon oil - the world was warm and smelled wonderful. I was in heaven.

Needless to say, within about 20 minutes, I had picked five or six grocery bags full - far more than would fit in our flat rate shipping boxes. Luckily, my aunt offered us a spare suitcase and, after some careful packing, weighing and stashing extra citrus in our other bags, we were able to check our bounty in with our other luggage. All in all, I think we had 60 pounds of citrus. (navel oranges and tangelos too, but mostly lemons) Dreams of all that lemonade made the blizzard we came home to a little bit easier to bear.

A few days later, Mom and I realized that the lemons were going to go a lot further than we thought. Just how much frozen lemon juice and dried zest would someone need, right? Mom made limoncello, which used 12 lemons...but we still had bags left over. What to do, what to do. Suddenly, I had an idea.

Marmalade.

All that sunshine, preserved. Gorgeous, isn't it?

(here's the recipe)

22 comments:

Mike W. said...

If softball sized lemons are "small" then what the hell are those puny ass things I buy at the store, and why are they so pitiful by comparison?

Tasty looking marmalade.

Mike-ENDOtactical said...

MMmmmmm lemons. That marmalade looks breathtaking.

markofafreeman said...

How much you want for a couple of jars? ;-)

The Big Guy said...

Regarding surplus-
One thing we used to do when I was a young'un, when there was a surplus of Key Limes (I lived in the Keys when I was a tot...) was to squeeze the tart little jewels and freeze the juice in a ice cube tray.
4 cubes was a cup of juice, and you couldn't tell the difference in a Key Lime Pie (which is what 90% of our lime juice was used for...)
Just a tip, FWIW.

TBG

Beth said...

i so want to taste that...

B

BobG said...

Looks tasty.

Aaron said...

Just moved out of Arizona this past year and we would periodically get lemons gifted to us by people who had more than they could use. They always made great lemon meringue pie. Unfortunately now we are limited to the store bought ones. Maybe I can convince some friends to send us a few in the mail. Never thought of making marmalade with them, but we did think of trying that with some of the sour oranges that are everywhere you look out there.
I would second the recommendation on freezing the lemon juice in ice cube trays, it works great.

West, By God said...

Sometime you must find some Ponderosa Lemons. A friend of mine down in Tampa has a Ponderosa lemon tree. The things are footballs. I can literally make a pitcher of lemonade with ONE.

Justin Unbounded said...

The best lemon I ever had was picked off someone's try by the side of the road in Cyprus. It was large and very delicious. I didn't think too much about stealing because the try had about 300 lemons just like it. Yum.

Gator said...

You got 'em just in time. The freeze here was short, but it hit the citrus trees hard. Ours is looking kinda sick now.

Dick said...

The problem with small lemons is similar to the problem with tomatoes. The best ones do not have the mechanical integrity for machine harvest or bouncy truck transport. Fifty miles down the road,you have mush. Thus, the tasteless sliceable billiard balls.

Carteach0 said...

Lemon marmalade?

You have brought a tear to my eye, just to know such a wonder exists in this world.

New Jovian Thunderbolt said...

Makes you want to get a grow light and start a lemontree in your living room, doesn't it?

Oh? Didn't know you could get fruit indoors like that? Oh, yes.

Andrew said...

All I have to say is "Mmmmm, limoncello!"

drjim said...

We've got two lemon trees alongside the house, and we literally have to throw lemons away.
Just watch out for the thorns when you pick 'em!

George in AZ said...

Media makes us think of FL. for citrus. But, AZ is famous for copper, cotton, citrus, cattle & climate.
When we moved here in the 50's, my grandfather bought fresh oranges weekly, and made fresh orange juice year 'round.
But, don't tell, anyone

FatWhiteMan said...

When I was a kid in Florida, we had 6 orange trees in the back yard. We would pick boxes full of them and try to use them up any way we could. The oranges there were juice oranges about the size of what grapefruits are in Southern Ohio grocery stores. They also had ugly, splotchy looking peels, not like the "pretty" oranges you find at Krogers. They were tasty and juicy, just not as pretty and small as the store bought ones.

DirtCrashr said...

In So-Cal there are places downtown, alleways and streets, where the lemon trees are so overburdened the fruit falls and rots on the sidewalk creating a huge stinky mess.

Ken said...

Thumbs up. Good work.

Sdv1949 said...

LEMON PIE!!!

My folks winter in AZ and their house has a lemon tree. The lemon pie is to die for.

sv

tswift said...

awesome picture, it really does look like a capture ray of sunshine. Just what we need during on Ohio winter.

Christopher said...

We have a lemon tree in the backyard, a birthday gift for my wife 5 years ago, and an orange tree in the front yard. My favorite thing to do this time of year is to walk out in the morning, pick two oranges for my snacking pleasure at work during the day! YES!