Six things to do when you have an over-achieving lemon tree

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Winter has hung up its dancing shoes and gone home.  The warmer, longer days are a welcome change and the fence alongside our clinic is hung with intoxicating wisteria which signals that spring has truly arrived.

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There are still bags of lemons in my fridge like stragglers at a party who hang around long after the champagne is drunk and the music has stopped.  The parents’ lemon tree has been in overdrive until a couple of weeks ago but the start of September has been hectic, leaving me with no time to address the excess citrus issue.

Each morning, I drink warm water with a good squeeze of lemon juice but I knew that the lemons wouldn’t keep long enough to be used up this way.  So as I always do, I turned to Dr. Google for ways of using them up before good lemons go bad, and the world wide web did not disappoint.

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Here’s my pick of the suggestions I found:

1. Squeeze them and freeze the juice in ice-cube trays for later.

2. Use the juice and zest in salad dressings like in this Quinoa Salad, or this Zucchini and Fennel Salad or even this one with Warm Lentils, Walnuts and Goats Cheese.

3. Make Lemon Curd.

4. Make lemonade or it’s slightly salty Indian cousin, nimboo pani for those warmer spring days.

5. Make preserved lemons to use in tagines and other middle-eastern dishes.  Here is a good method.

6. Bake the lemony goodness into these nankhatai biscuits, or these lemon marmalade meringue ones.  Consider also this lemon tart or these lemon chocolate cheesecake pots with lemon peel powder.

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While we’re on lemons, check out this ludicrously cute pics of tiny humans trying lemons for the first time.

What are your favourite ways of using up citrus?

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Fructose-free Lemon Curd from a Lemony Bounty

I’ve set about the task of growing herbs in my balcony with a stubborn determination which is not entirely typical of me.  Mind you, gardening for me is an undertaking that requires nothing short of the stubbornest of determinations because despite my best efforts, I seem to fail miserably at growing anything.

Anything apart from mould in bowls of questionable things in my fridge, that is.

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Of course like all other products of my generation, I blame my mother entirely for this particular deficiency.  She once told me that when she was a child, she planted some seedlings and rushed out excitedly the next day to pull them out of the soil to check if the roots were growing.

Needless to say there was not much of anything growing after that.

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As luck would have it, Dad is actually quite a competent gardener and I can almost forgive him for not passing on the gene as he keeps me adequately supplied with whatever is flourishing in their garden.

So while the basil languishes in our balcony and the dill shrivels pathetically next to it, my parents’ garden has a curry leaf tree that has reached alarming heights, chilli plants that frequently sprout their spicy red fruit and a lemon tree that produces impressive numbers of citrusy goodness every winter.

When my parents handed over a bag of the aforementioned lemons, it was immediately clear to me that I would not be able to use all of the fruit before they dried up to half of their juicy selves.

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Following this was the thought that this would be the perfect opportunity to try my hand at making lemon curd.  That’s right, for the first time!  Surprising as I have always found the sweet, creamy tang of lemon curd at once delightful and refreshing.

I then decided that one first wasn’t enough for the day and decided to make a fructose-free version of said lemon curd.

This version uses dextrose, which is a glucose powder.  It is slightly less sweet than regular lemon curd but I found it sweet enough.  You could probably add a little more dextrose if you wanted to.  You can use lemon curd for lots of things- tarts, lemon meringue pie, cake.  Or just spread it on toast.  I am planning more lemon curd related posts in the future so stay with me fellow citrus-lovers.

So what are your favourite ways to use lemon or other fruit curds? I would love to hear your ideas in the comments section.

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Fructose-free Lemon Curd

Makes just under a cup

Modified from Gifts from the Kitchen by Annie Riggs via The Patterned Plate

Get:

2 eggs

Juice and finely grated zest of 1 1/2 lemons

62g butter, cubed

110g dextrose

Make:

Beat the eggs and place in the heatproof top bowl of a double boiler or Bain Marie.  I used a large thick walled ceramic bowl.  Ensure the water in the lower vessel is not touching the bowl at the top.  Add the other ingredients and cook on moderate heat for 17-20mins, stirring every few mins.

Stop cooking when the mixture is the consistency of a thick custard.

Allow to cool for a few mins, then place in the fridge to speed up the cooling process.

Place into a sterilised jar and in the fridge.  Mine lasted a few days in the fridge.

Notes:

To sterilise glass jars, wash with soap and hot water and place the jars and lids upturned on a baking tray in a preheated oven at 160 C for 20 mins.

If  fructose-free is not your thing, replace the dextrose with the same amount of caster sugar.

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