Wednesday, May 6, 2009

You great big lemon.

Citrus fruits are glorious fruits and all of them have their place in the kitchen. But king of the kitchen would have to be the lemon. So versatile, so uplifting, so……yellow. Here in Ibiza, as with almost all of the indigenous produce, the lemons are hard to beat. Big, sweet but sharp and with good thick pith and skin, I have had lemons here that are pure sherbet. The lemon season starts in December but I reckon it is around now that they really come into their own. Nobody who knows anything about lemons agrees with me on this but I reckon that they are a bit like grapes – the longer they stay on the vine/branch, the sweeter they become.

In the kitchen they are a must in so many dishes, particularly the zest. The zest gets into just about every salad I make during the summer leaving me with a fridge full of zested but unsqeezed lemons. They get stored in the fridge once they are zested cos otherwise they deteriorate quickly but the juice always gets used up pronto; into dressings, over fish, over lamb, into sauces, into sorbets and icecreams and most excellently into lemonade. Homemade lemonade. It is enough to make you weep it is so good. Below is a recipe that once tried will be tried again and again.

When you are zesting lemons make sure that you don’t dig into the pith as it gives an acrid aftertaste. The two best ways of removing the zest that I know of is by grating it (see below) or by shaving it with a potato peeler and then cutting off any pith you may have shaved of with the skin.

An aside -There is an unbelievably excellent grater that has come on the market in the last few years and is unsurpassable for fine zesting lemons (and creating snowlike grated parmesan). It is called a Microplane and was invented by a carpenter cum home chef. He was making spaghettis for his kids and couldn’t find the grater so went to his workshop and brought back a wood plane and Voilá – the best addition to Kitchen Paraphernalia in recent years was born. If you don’t got one – get one

Perfect this and you will never be lonely

250g sugar
500 ml lemon juice
1.75l water
(7 good sized lemons make around 500ml)

Zest the lemons (you can forego this is you have a fridge full of zested lemons)
Squeeze the lemons
Add juice, zest and sugar together and dissolve over slow heat
Sieve out zest.

At this point you have cordial and this will keep in your fridge till hell freezes over.

When needed pour ½ of it into a jug and fill with crushed ice, mint and slices of lemon and orange and then pour in around a litre of water. If you wanna really get them going fill with fizzy water.



chris said...

Damn, but that looks good. I think I'll have to get to the market, buy some lemons and make some up for the weekend.
Fridays are a good day for that sort of thing, because I don't have to work on Fridays.

Ben said...

100% with you on leaving lemons on the tree. Sweet and sweet. But I don't how to persuade my dumb-ass nieghbours to leave them beyond january.