Topic: Education and Values
Lemons- Part One
Working with ZEST
You know the saying—when life hands you lemons, make lemonade--
But think again—and start with the zest first. You'll get to the juice soon enough (in Part Two).
My very “organic” friend in California, Betty Cahill (delishytown.tumblr.com), sent me this huge box of organic lemons this week. She's an avid organic gardener and garden designer, sustainable ag aficionado, cook, creator of multiple products, etc—and she knew I'd appreciate the gift.
The sheer volume of these beautiful lemons allows me to try some projects I had been thinking about. Let's start with lemon zest in this post.
Lemon oil, extracted from the zest is a very interesting product. It's a beautiful fragrance enhancer, useful in aromatherapy, candle, soap making, potpourri and diffuser fragrances, facial scrubs and shampoos, combined with oil soap as a leather cleaner and softener and furniture cleaner , and further diluted useful as a wood and laminate floor cleaner. It's a natural insecticide. And diluted in a spray bottle, can be used to disinfect countertops.
Pure lemon oil, commercially extracted requires 100 +lemons to create 1 oz. of pure lemon oil. But you can extract lemon oil from peeled zest directly into olive oil and have a very concentrated lemon oil-in -olive oil final product, very intense, that can be substituted into any recipe calling for lemon oil. And you'll only use about 10-12 lemons and 1 cup of olive oil to yield 8 oz. of final product.
Please note: lemon oil is very potent and the small portions called for in recipes should be respected.
Here's a 6 hour extraction process using a mini-crockpot, 1 cup of pure extra-virgin olive oil and the zest peelings of 10-12 lemons, basically one cup of zest peelings.
Measure 1 cup of peelings, place in the mini crockpot and cover with olive oil. In the mini crockpot, it will totally cover the peelings.
Turn on the crockpot (the mini is a low setting) and cover, allowing to cook for 6 hours.
Line a colander with cheesecloth or pour over a large strainer into a bowl, capturing the oil in the bowl. Discard the peels. Transfer the oil into a glass oil bottle, storing in the pantry or cupboard out of direct sunlight. Your one cup yield will last for many, many potpourri refreshenings, fragrance projects, and cleaning/disinfecting activities.
But, maybe you'd like a totally different approach to zest.
Here's my second project from zest—and one that my friends will appreciate because I intend to bottle this up as little gifts.
Have you ever had Limoncello ???
Limoncello is a liqueur, inspired by the lemon groves of southern Italy. It's usually served as chilled “shots” in really cute little lemon colored glasses. But it's also great as an appertif over ice or mixed with tonic or seltzer or maybe an icy Limoncello-martini? —a summertime treat...
Here's an easy recipe with the proportions that can be adapted to the amount of lemons you have, and how much you want to end up with—especially note if you are thinking about giving this as a gift to friends.
I was lucky to have lots of lemons still left after the oil extraction above—so consequently, I will have lots of Limoncello to share.
First, peel the zest part of the lemons—this means minimizing the white—and place into a measure-able container . You will add 2 times as much good quality, unflavored vodka to the container.
The basic recipe I'm using calls for 10 lemons, 1 liter vodka—so if you're starting from scratch, you can us this starting point for proportions. (It's from allrecipes.com and got 4.5 stars.)
So, I had close to 2 liters of zest peelings and I am adding 2 (1.75 L vodka) or 3.5 total liters.
Cover and put in your pantry for 1 week. Nothing will grow in it—it's all alcohol.
(BTW- this wonderful, food grade Rubbermaid container with cover was purchased at Sam's Club. I don't mind referencing Sam's Club because I have purchased some of my best cooking utensils and tools --Restaurant quality and sized-- at very reasonable prices. )
One week later...
Boil together—3 cups of pure cane sugar and 4 cups of water. Boil 15 minutes and it'll be syrup-y. Let it cool.
(because of my volume, I will have to increase the amounts by 3.5 times, right?)
Stir the strained lemon-infused vodka into the cooled syrup. You can now bottle it into sanitized glass bottles and cork it, or into sterilized canning jars and seal them. The liqueur should further age for 2 weeks at room temperature. Then it can be refrigerated and served chilled.
I promise photos in a couple of weeks of the final limoncello--
Meanwhile I am off to test my lemon oil and water in a spray bottle around a barn office door to see if the box elder bugs will avoid it ! And, I admit that I did make a shampoo with lemon oil that I have to try later today (lemon oil is great for blondes, but avoid in brunettes)
And, of course--I still have about 50 lemons to juice in the refrigerator!!!