Austin Urban Gardens

Raised Bed Gardening and Eating Well in Austin, Texas

Making the Most of Citrus Season – Meyer Lemons December 16, 2012

For the most part, I eat seasonally – but I like to preserve some things that I find necessary to cook with all year long – tomatoes, peppers, and salsa verde are necessary winter staples in my pantry.  Last year, I acquired a chest freezer, which has opened up a lot of space for me to preserve a wider variety of foods.

It is citrus season now, and I’ve been buying up tangerines from Orange Blossom Farm, and G&S oranges and grapefruits to juice and freeze.  I had a fairly decent Meyer Lemon harvest of my own, and my friend Kristina harvested over 500 lemons from her tree, from which I bartered for a couple dozen.

Lemons from my tree

Lemons from my tree

The Mexican Lime tree in a pot next to the Meyer Lemon tree, produced identical looking and tasting fruit, so it appears that they have cross-pollinated and all become Meyer Lemons.

Last year I made preserved lemons, most of which I still have.  So this year, I decided to juice and freeze these lemons, and also their zest.  I can’t believe I hadn’t thought of that before – how simple to grab a pinch of frozen zest from a bag in the freezer.

Lemons, Lemons, Lemons

Lemons, Lemons, Lemons

Bag of Meyer Lemon Juice

Bag of Meyer Lemon Juice

I also froze some juice in ice trays, for times when I just need a small amount of citrus to brighten the flavor of a dish, or as an addition to a cocktail.

Next on my Meyer Lemon preserving project, I decided to start a small batch of Limoncello.  It seemed like a good way to use some of the peel.  So, basically, you put lemon peel into a jar of Tito’s Vodka for several days, before adding the sugar.  Or you could skip the sugar altogether, and jut have lemon Vodka.

Limoncello to be

Limoncello to be

Finally,  I made my favorite mustard recipe, from Ball, The Complete Book of Home Preserving, Lemon-Sage Wine Mustard.  For this recipe, I add extra lemon juice and zest and just use half of the honey.  I also added a tablespoon of hot Oriental mustard for some heat, (to a double batch) then processed it in the Vitamix for a smoother mustard.

Lemony mustard

Lemony mustard

I feel pretty good about my citrus stash, although I’ve yet to freeze grapefruit juice.  Citrus makes everything taste brighter and more complex, is good to drink on its own or in a cocktail, and makes a fabulous, tenderizing marinade for meats.

Frozen citrus

Frozen citrus

Naturally, there are lots of ways to preserve lemons, and other citrus, but this is what works for me.  Just about everything you would like to make from citrus, can be made from the juice.


9 Responses to “Making the Most of Citrus Season – Meyer Lemons”

  1. Fabulous ideas! We’ve done the limoncello thing before, and you can even use the peels in cocktails as lemon twists.

  2. regrowroots Says:

    Beautiful lemon stash!!! I grew up in Denton, TX where i never saw a lemon tree, and when I moved to San Diego I was thrilled at the mass abundance of fruits everywhere I looked! Now I live in Missouri and there’s not a lemon to be seen.. aside from grocery store shelves of course. I never even thought to keep a lemon tree in pot so it could be taken in for the winter, until I went to see my aunt in Dallas for Thanksgiving.. Definitely something to keep in mind! A lemon tree would be divine.

    • They do great in pots, as do all the citrus. They tend to stay small if their pot is small. I have lots of repotting to do very soon. Thanks for the comment!

      • regrowroots Says:

        I noticed that my Aunt Bunny had a pretty small lemon tree in her small pot. She’s had it for years and gets maybe 20 lemons from it every year. I imagine it would get really difficult to move if it’s too big though…

  3. Rachel Says:

    Yay lemons… mmmmm!!

  4. jenj Says:

    How does the frozen juice reconstitute for drinking? We love orange and grapefruit juice but I’ve been afraid to freeze it for drinking, as I’ve heard it doesn’t taste right when it’s thawed. Also, how do you get the juice in bags? I’ve had bad luck getting liquids into Ziplocks – the bags always tip over and stuff spills everywhere. What’s your secret?

    • I think it tastes just fine after being frozen, although I use most of it for marinades and cocktails. It is tricky getting liquids into bags, so I use very large ziplocks, which makes it easier. I pour from a pint size jar which you can put all the way into the ziplock freezer bag. Good luck!

  5. jimmie Says:

    when do you pick them from the tree do you wait until they are yellow

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