Citrus fruit may taste like sunshine, but the colder months of the year are when the happy tasting delights are in season. You’re surely familiar with oranges, lemons, limes, and grapefruits, but what about blood oranges or Buddha’s hand? There are a ton of more interesting specimens available, and these are some of the best.
A couple of months back, someone had a surplus of lemons so they asked what could be done. One of the more interesting suggestions was limoncello, a lemon liqueur made by infusing neutral alcohol (like vodka or Everclear) using lemon zest. The cost is largely time – the process takes about three months.
As with any recipe, there’s ideal ingredients: Meyer lemons. Meyers can be grown year round in warm climates, but ones from California don’t tend to show up on shelves until December. So I had time to learn about zest (including how to store it) and practice getting zest without reaching into the pith on cheaper, more readily available citrus.
I allotted two of the smallest lemons for being first to be zested, and that zest to be for the lemon bars in case I needed to perfect my zesting technique. I had my doubts about freezing zest in a ziplock bag, but it didn’t take long for the zest to thaw. I could smell the zest through the unopened bag. So I’m now confident about the limoncello. 😀
Meyers appeared at the local grocery about two weeks ago. The limoncello recipe called for 17 lemons to combine with 1.5 L of alcohol… I zested the lemons, and figured… hoped… that a recipe that called for 0.75 of a cup of lemon juice would put a dent in the number of lemons I had. As of writing this, I have 19.5 lemons left. In my defense, I’d rather have too many than too few. 😉
I haven’t juiced Meyers before, but my impression of the zested ones was they don’t stand up to juicing well. What has left of the rind was giving out before some of the endocarp could release juice. The pith is thinner than lemons I typically use when cooking cod in the oven.
The closest related to food was stain removal from plastic containers. The rest are polishing or cleaning related. Which makes sense – like vinegar, citrus is mildly acidic, organic and non-toxic. There’ve been studies that suggest vinegar is better than chlorine for cleaning.
There is a “low” dose of vitamin K in lemons. But lemons are not the sort of thing many are going to over-consume 😉 I don’t have details, but I suspect the vitamin K is in the zest, as with most citrus fruit.