Lemons are part of the citrus family which is widely used in cooking.
Lemons are the tangy fruits of a small tree with dark green leaves and decidedly fragrant flowers. As flavoring, lemons sharpen the taste of many sauces, especially salad dressings, and their zest adds a decidedly citrus flavor to many cakes and desserts, balancing their sweetness.
The Lemon has many uses, having been linked in origin from Northwestern India, and spread throughout the world, as not only an edible, but a stain remover, a cattle feed, and claims are made of many different medicinal uses.
How to use and store
Choose a lemon that is smooth skinned and heavier than it looks. Store in the refrigerator or by salting.
1/4 cup salt
Freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 cinnamon stick (opt)
3 cloves (opt)
5 to 6 coriander seeds (opt)
3 to 4 peppercorns (opt)
1 bay leaf (opt)
To soften the peel, soak lemons in lukewarm water for 3 days, change the water daily.
Quarter the lemons from the top, to about 1/2 inch of the bottom. Sprinkle the salt on the exposed flesh, then reshape the fruit. Place 1 tablespoon of salt on the bottom of a sterilized one-pint mason jar. Pack the lemons into the jar and push them down, adding more salt and the optional spices between layers. Press the lemons down, releasing their juices and to make room for the more lemons. If the juice released from the lemons doesn't cover them fully, add freshly squeezed lemon juice to cover. Leave 1/4 inch head space in the jar. Place the jarred lemons in a warm place to ripen for 1 month. Shake the jar everyday to distribute the salt and the juice.
To use preserved lemons, rinse the lemons (or by quarters) as needed under cool running water. Remove and discard the pulp - use only the peel. There is no need to refrigerate after opening. Preserved lemons will keep up to 1 year and the pickling juice can be used up to 3 times over the course of that 1 year.
Cooking with lemons
Both juice and rind are used to give the unique citrus flavor to many dishes, eithr sweet and savory. Lemon juice can be used in a marinade; try marinating chicken breast in lemon juice with rosemary before grilling them. Lemonade, sweetened lemon uice and water, is wonderful cooling drink.
Lemon Equivalents - 1 medium lemon equals approximately 1 tablespoon of lemon zest and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice.
Start with the shortbread first. While shortbread is baking, prepare the lemon mixture. Bars will keep in fridge for 3 days, covered.
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Cut the butter into 1/2-inch pieces. Using a food processor process all of the ingredients until the mixture begins to form small lumps.
- Sprinkle into a 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking pan and using a metal spatula, press evenly onto bottom.
- Bake the shortbread in the middle of the oven until golden, approximately 20 minutes.
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
Hot shortbread base, as per recipe above
3 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
- Whisk together eggs and granulated sugar, in a bowl, until combined well. Stir in lemon juice and flour. Pour the lemon mixture over hot shortbread. Reduce the oven temperature to 300°F.
- Bake in the middle of oven until set, approximately 30 minutes.
- Cool completely in pan before cutting into 24 bars. Sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving.