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Lemons and Limes: The Topic


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Yesterday my mother in law sent us a package from Israel with, amongst other things, some lemons from her own tree. I have never seen, tasted or smelled lemons superior to hers, they are so fragrant and juicy and, well, lemony, it's really unbelievable.

Usually I use them in sweet preparations, their flavour makes to die for lemon curd and spectacular deserts and biscuits but since I made lemon curd not too long ago and there is still a lot of orange cheesecake leftover from a birthday last week, I would love some ideas to incorporate the lemons in a savoury dish.

Salad dressing, yes (with olive oil also from Israel, which makes an awesome combo...) as accompagnement to fish, sure, but I would really love to do something different with them, to make them stand out and let them get the attention they deserve. Does anyone have a suggestion on what I could do with them...?


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I use this Nigella Lawson recipe all of the time. My husband thinks it is one of the best chicken recipes ever. Plus, your house will smell delightful. The recipe is from her Forever Summer book. I have changed it up a little so I can post it.

Slow-Roasted Garlic and Lemon Chicken

4 lbs. of chicken on bone and with skin (whole breasts and leg quarters work well)

1 head of garlic, cloves separated but unpeeled

2 lemons cut into chunks (I usually use four since they are small around here)

fresh or dried thyme to taste

3 Tbsp. olive oil

10 Tbsp. wine (we aren't big wine drinkers, so I usually use water or mirin)

salt and black pepper

Preheat oven to 300 F. Throw everything in a big raosting pan and mix it up. Make sure chicken is skin side up. Cover the pan with foil and roast for 2 hours.

Remove foil and raise oven temp to 400 F. Cook for another 30-45 min. The lemons and the garlic get all golden and carmelized. It smells like summer.

Preach not to others what they should eat, but eat as becomes you and be silent. Epicetus

Amanda Newton

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You don't have to use them all up at once. Lemons and their parts freeze pretty well. I have been the lucky recipient this year of more than a bushel of lemons. I juiced and froze, I zested and froze and I froze some whole. I will have homegrown lemons for months, if not until the next crop comes in.

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I had to smile when I saw this thread...the lemon tree in the yard of my Israeli apartment building yields such big, fragrant, juicy fruit, and each winter I have to think up ways to use them. Limocello is a good suggestion: make the liqueur with the zest, and freeze the juice. A good Purim gift. Last year I made a lot of hard lemonade and lemon wine too. I'm printing out the chicken recipe Shellfishfiend posted - looks excellent. And I'm going to knock down a few more lemons and put the zest in sugar for baking or whatever comes up.

This year's big lemon experience was preserving them in salt. I preserved five big lemons going by Elizabeth David's Spices, Salt and Aromatics in the English Kitchen. The recipe goes like this, with my comments:

Take four large lemons; wash them and put them in a jar big enough to contain them whole.

Cover with water*; change the water every day for 3 days.

On the 4th day, quarter the lemons and put the pieces in a clean, dry, wide-mouth jar. Add 1 Tblsp. coarse salt per lemon. Put a double thickness of baking paper or other greaseproof paper right on top of the fruit; weigh this down with a 2-lb. weight. I used a full bottle of water, which fit into the opening of the jar. E.D. suggests a clean, smooth stone as an option.

Leave alone in a cool place for 1 week. The juice and salt will combine to make a preservative brine. In hot weather or a hot kitchen, keep the jar in the fridge. Cover and keep in the fridge another 2-3 weeks to allow the lemons to mature.

Use thin slices of the zest and pith in savory cooking. E.D. says that slivers of the whole fruit are good in salads as well.

*re water: Some of the essential oils leach out from the skins of the lemons at the first soaking, making a refreshing skin splash or tonic. If you plan to do this, use good-quality water (mineral or filtered). The water from the next two soakings isn't as strong or fragrant.


Miriam Kresh


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Do you do any canning? There's a great recipe for meyer lemon marmalade in Blue Ribbon Preserves that is good with store bought lemons - I bet it would be spectacular with your wonderful lemons.

I'd probably also make a batch or 3 of lemon poppyseed muffins, because I love them and they freeze pretty well for quick breakfasts.

"Nothing you could cook will ever be as good as the $2.99 all-you-can-eat pizza buffet." - my EX (wonder why he's an ex?)

My eGfoodblog: My corner of the Midwest

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Thanks all, for the great suggestions!

I'm going to preserve some of my lemons I have always loved the taste of preserved lemons but somehow it never occurred to me that I could actually make them myself... :rolleyes:

Also, I might cook up a garlic-lemon-chicken dish based on the Nigella recipe for guest tomorrow. As for the rest of the fruit, I still haven't decided what to do with them. Choosing one option seems like eliminating all of the other wonderful possibilities and I hate the thought of missing out on something :biggrin:

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I'll add my recipe for Maine Shrimp With Linguini, since it comes out with a strong lemon flavor. Obviously it can be adapted for any sort of shrimp by adjusting the cooking time.

Ingredients for two servings:

¾ lb fresh Maine shrimp

½ lb linguini

1 tsp fresh or pinch of dried thyme

½ cup fresh Italian parsley leaves

1 lemon

1 clove garlic

light olive oil (or other neutral-flavored oil) for sauteeing

You will need a large skillet, since the dish finishes with the addition of the pasta to the pan in which you’ve sauteed the shrimp. You’ll also need a big pot for the pasta, of course; you can set the water to boil before you begin rest of the preparations.

Shell the shrimp. Have the thyme on a little plate or bowl ready to add to the pan. Pull the parsley leaves off the sprigs & have them ready. Squeeze the lemon into a bowl or glass and keep the juice at hand. Peel the garlic clove.

Timing is the key to this dish; the shrimp will cook very quickly, in no more than 2 minutes on most stoves. You don’t want to overcook them or they will turn rubbery and lose flavor.

You’ll probably want to have the pasta water boiling, add the linguini and let it cook for a couple of minutes before you begin sauteeing the shrimp. You can even prepare the linguini and set it aside before you start the shrimp, though you run the risk of having the pasta lose heat and clump together if you let it sit too long. Ideally you'll want to have the linguini drained just as the shrimp finishes cooking.

Add the linguini to the boiling water. Let it cook 60 to 90 seconds less than the recommended time, since it will finish cooking in the shrimp pan. When that time has elapsed, toss a cup or two of cold water into the linguini pot to stop it cooking, drain the pasta and reserve.

As the linguini cooks, crush or mince the garlic clove as you prefer. Add enough oil to the pan to coat the bottom; heat oil on a medium setting until it swirls clearly. Add the garlic and stir for around 30 seconds, until it begins to release its flavor. You don’t want to brown or burn the garlic, or that taste will dominate the dish.

Add the shrimp to the pan and continue stirring; sprinkle them with the thyme while they cook. Keep a close eye on the shrimp; they will firm up and turn white very quickly, likely in less than 2 minutes as noted.

Keep stirring and add the lemon juice as soon as the shrimp are firm. After another 5-10 seconds, as soon as the lemon juice begins to steam, add the linguini to the pan and stir. Add the parsley and continue to stir and toss until everything is well blended. You can turn off the heat 30-60 seconds into the final stir if the ingredients aren’t well mixed at that point.

Transfer the mixture to two warmed pasta bowls and you’re done. I don’t add cheese to this particular dish because I find that it interferes with the delicate flavors here, but you could try a light sprinkle of good freshly grated parmigiano if you like.

You can vary this dish by using different herbs – marjoram, rosemary, oregano, an Herbes De Provence blend. My only advice is to add herbs with a light hand and not overwhelm the shrimp.

A note on salt: since I’m on a low-sodium diet, I purposefully haven’t included any salt in the list of ingredients. I find that the sea salts already in the shrimp are sufficient to balance the dish to my taste. Most folks boil their pasta in salted water, and there’d be nothing wrong with adding a pinch of salt to the pan after the lemon juice heats if that’s the way your taste runs.

Thank God for tea! What would the world do without tea? How did it exist? I am glad I was not born before tea!

- Sydney Smith, English clergyman & essayist, 1771-1845

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Iced Lemon Souffle (Sunset Mag had a recipe years ago) or a lemon mousse?

Lemon mousse sounds like a great idea, do you have a recipe that works for you and that you'd be willing to share?

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  • 1 month later...

In my old neighborhood, I got spoiled buying citrus -- I could almost always buy lemons at 5/$1 and limes for half that. The quality wasn't always the best, but even when they were a little old, they seemed to have lots of juice. Now, not only are lemons and limes really expensive, but I seem to be running into a depressing number of dried out fruit -- limes especially.

I wonder why that is, but more important, I wonder if there are reliable ways to predict which fruit will be the juiciest. From casual observation, it seems to me that the driest limes have had really dark, rough skin, but I don't know if this is an indicator, or merely a coincidence. It certainly doesn't seem to be the case that old limes are drier -- I've used limes (and lemons) with spots that are quite juicy. In fact, once in a while, I've cut into one that's actually started to turn brown inside -- I haven't used them, but they seem to still have plenty of juice left.

With lemons, it seems to be a different story. I rarely find lemons that are dried out in the same way as limes (oranges also seem to suffer from desiccation), but I have bought more than a few that have such thick skins that the actual fruit is tiny and thus produces very little juice. I try to get lemons that give a little with pressure, but then sometimes that backfires and I end up with a spoiled one.

So, essentially, I'm at a loss. Anyone have tried and true methods for estimating juice content for citrus fruit?

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it may seem obvious, but the rule of thumb i give my cooking students is that "heavy for its size is a good indicator of freshness." produce is mostly water weight, and as the produce sits around, in the warehouse or on the shelf, moisture evaporates through the skin. we have a natural "scale" in our heads, that tells us how heavy that artichoke or lemon will feel when we pick it up. if it feels heavier than we expect, chances are good that it is fairly fresh. if it feels a lot lighter than expected, it has probably been sitting around too long. that's my method, anyhoo...

"Laughter is brightest where food is best."


Author of The I Love Trader Joe's Cookbook ,The I Love Trader Joe's Party Cookbook and The I Love Trader Joe's Around the World Cookbook

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What they said.

With regard to lemons, you're right that the rind with a bit of "give" to it is less likely to be superthick...but then, you're running the risk of getting an older lemon on the verge of spoilage. I use the "heavy for its size" test, but with lemons I also check how lumpy the rind is. Large lumps seem to correlate with thick skins, possibly because those lumps are magnified by thick cell walls.

Oh. Check the smell, also. You should be able to smell a good ripe citrus fruit, and pick the better fruit out by the stronger good aroma.

Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
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And dont forget lots of California fruit was picked early this year because of the weather.


The great thing about barbeque is that when you get hungry 3 hours later....you can lick your fingers


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I've heard that "heaviness" is a good indicator as well, but in practice, I guess I don't feel much difference, in limes at least. There seems to be more difference among lemons.

However, as far as age goes, it doesn't seem to me that age correlates with juiciness. As I mentioned above, I've cut into limes with brown spots, even ones whose flesh has started to turn a little brown and they're still very juicy (even though I've been too cautious to use the juice when the flesh is brownish).

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I've heard that "heaviness" is a good indicator as well, but in practice, I guess I don't feel much difference, in limes at least. There seems to be more difference among lemons.

However, as far as age goes, it doesn't seem to me that age correlates with juiciness. As I mentioned above, I've cut into limes with brown spots, even ones whose flesh has started to turn a little brown and they're still very juicy (even though I've been too cautious to use the juice when the flesh is brownish).

Just last night I neded a lime for my wife's cocktail. In my crisper I had a couple that did not look so good on the outside, but the one I choose was full of nice tart juice. Tough time of year for citrus, but I agree that limes in particular will give good juice, even if they don't look so good

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I tend to pick thin skinned lemons - maybe it is aesthetics for me but the thick skin isn't appealing. Is that really an indicator for juice content?

Citrus can really be difficult - it is a very delicate "animal".

We have a "citrus" tree in our home but the fruit is very confusing - it starts off green, turns yellow then turns orange and the fruit is very bitter. It is beautiful to look at and this year I invested in a Meyer lemon tree so hopefully my citrus woes will be over.

Whoever said that man cannot live by bread alone...simply did not know me.
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