WHEN FLORIDA gives you lemons, you should make something tasty. Maybe tart. Could be tangy. It doesn’t have to be lemonade. But it could be.
Step one: Get the most from Florida lemons. Take the zest off the peel. Use a grater or vegetable peeler. The zest is just the yellow part, not the white part underneath. A grater gives you sprinkly bits. A peeler yields long pieces for garnish and flavoring. Freeze any zest you’re not going to use immediately.
Step two: Juice the fruit. To get the most juice from the fruit you should warm it. A warm water bath works well. Roll the warm fruit on a counter to soften it. Now cut it in half and juice it with an old fashioned glass juicer or a newfangled electric model.
Step three: Fill one section of an ice cube tray with water. Pour it into a measuring cup and note the measurement so when you freeze juice in trays you know how much there is in a section compared to how much a recipe calls for.
Step four: Make lemon syrup for all sorts of uses.
3 cups sugar
1 cup boiling water
3 cups lemon juice
2 tablespoons grated peel (optional)
Dissolve sugar in boiling water. Cool. Add lemon juice and peel; mix well. Cover and store in the refrigerator for up to one week. Yield: 5-1/2 cups syrup
To make a glass of lemonade, stir 1/4 to 1/3 cup syrup and 3/4 cup cold water in a glass. For 8 servings, combine 2-2/3 cups syrup and 5 cups cold water in a 2-quart pitcher; stir well. Adjust sugar to taste. Sweeten with agave, palm sugar, honey or artificial sweetener. club soda. Mix other fruit juices with the lemonade base and you can have peach lemonade, raspberry lemonade, mango lemonade, or blackberry lemonade for instance. Iced tea is another blank canvas for lemons … mint tea, black tea, chamomile tea, green tea, etc.
Limoncello is the unofficial official drink of Italy. You can make it at home in a couple of hours. The hardest part is letting it sit around for about three months before getting in to it.
Put two 25-ounce bottles of vodka into a gallon jar. Wash 15 lemons well. Take off the zest with a vegetable peeler and add to the vodka. Cover and let this rest about a month.
After a month, put four cups white sugar and four cups water into a pot. Boil a little less than 10 minutes. Cool well. Add to vodka. Cover and leave it alone for another month.
After a month, strain through a fine sieve or moist coffee filters. Transfer to bottles and seal tightly. Some people recommend storing limoncello in the freezer and serving it ice cold. Mix it with ginger ale or club soda. Drizzle a bit over pound cake or berries.
Juice the lemons after zesting them and make syrup or store in ice cube trays. Frozen fruit pops for the kids are easy. Mix lemon syrup with other fruit juices or fruit purees to taste and pour into small paper cups. When they are partially frozen, insert a stick for a handle. A few seconds in microwave will loosen the pop.
According to the University of Florida, lemon trees may have fruit at different stages of development at the same time. Harvest only mature fruit, which have a light green peel color. Lemons are typically picked green when about 1 1/2 to 2 inches in diameter and allowed to cure. Curing involves placing the green fruit at room temperature and allowing the fruit to slowly become yellow, during which time the peel becomes smoother and the juice content increases. The fruit may then be stored in polyethylene bags in the refrigerator for several days to a week.
article by TRENT ROWE
Trent Rowe is the food editor of Central Florida Ag News.