Picture smooth, thin-skinned, lemons swaying seductively in the breeze. They temp you with their fresh fragrance and their bright eye-catching color. Heavy with juice, that begs to be released, the luscious fruit cry out “Take me! Use me! Squeeze me now!”
A while back I wrote a short piece called Got Lemons? for a Friday Fresh Five! post that started me thinking about this fabulously versatile fruit. If your lemon tree graced you with a bounty and you’re trying to figure out what to do with them, you’re in luck. I searched the internet and created a list of thirty ordinary and extraordinary uses for lemons. If you are fortunate enough to have Meyer lemons, which are slightly sweeter than regular lemons, there are some wonderful culinary suggestions to try. Limoncello, anyone?
Using Lemons – Ordinary and Extraordinary Ideas
1. Make homemade lemonade with this basic syrup recipe: 1 cup lemon juice, 1 cup sugar, 1 cup water. Dilute syrup to taste with water or soda water and add ice. For added flavor, include a bit of chopped crystallized ginger or fresh mint leaves or some fresh fruit.
2. Highlight your hair by mixing the juice of one lemon with one teaspoon of salt and apply to your hair with a comb. Get out into the sun for a couple of hours. Because of the drying effects of this mixture, do not use this too often.
3. Infuse your favorite olive oil with Meyer lemon peel: Warm a cup of olive oil and the peel from 2 lemons over very low heat for 15 minutes, then allow to cool for half an hour. Strain and pour into a bottle with a stopper.
4. Exfoliate and clean your feet – mix up some lemon pulp and brown sugar and rub. Rinse and moisturize. Repeated use of lemon juice can whiten toenails that have been yellowed by nail polish.
5. Roast quartered slices of Meyer lemon with olive oil, rosemary and whole shallots; serve simply, with slices of grilled bread.
6. Sooth a sting by mixing the juice of half a lemon with water and apply to area.
7. Stuff the cavity of a chicken with lemon and onion wedges before roasting it.
8. Freshen up your dishwasher by placing half a lemon onto one of the spikes before you run a wash cycle.
9. Squeeze the juice from lemons and freeze it in an ice cube tray; once frozen, store the cubes in plastic bags in the freezer.
10. Freeze lemon zest. Zest lemons before juicing them; freeze zest in a small, plastic bag or a small, airtight container. Use in salad dressings, soups, roasts, pasta dishes, seafood, dips, baked goods and more!
11. Make Meyer limoncello by steeping lemon peel in a bottle of vodka for two weeks. Then strain the infused vodka, mix with simple syrup and more vodka, and bottle the result.
12. For the perfect cold remedy, add the juice of half a lemon and a pinch of cayenne to a strong pot of tea.
13. Make a lemon candlescape: Cut lemons in half crosswise. Cut a small bit off the ends to create flat bottoms. Carefully ream out juice; scrape shells clean with a spoon. Place a small votive or tea light in each shell, carefully set in a pretty bowl, fill with a small amount of water, and light candles.
14. Relieve dry and achy hands by massaging them with a mixture of lemon juice and olive oil.
15. Make Meyer lemon vinaigrette with extra virgin olive oil, Meyer lemon juice, a splash of champagne vinegar, sea salt, cracked black pepper and a little lemon zest.
16. Slice a few lemons and put them into your bath with a sprinkle of lavender and rosemary.
17. Perfume your sugar bowl by stirring strips of lemon peel down into the sugar.
18. Dry lemon slices for decorations or potpourri: Cut lemons crosswise into 1/8-inch-thick slices. Leave any seeds in place. Discard ends. Place on wire rack in baking sheet. Dry in 170-degree oven 4 hours. Remove; leave on rack to air dry.
19. Rinse your mouth with lemon juice and then swallow it for longer-lasting fresh breath. The citric acid in the juice alters the pH level in your mouth, killing the bacteria that cause bad breath. Rinse with water after a few minutes, because long-term exposure to the acid in the juice can erode tooth enamel.
20. Make a lemon Bellini with Prosecco, Meyer lemon juice, a little simple syrup and strips of peel.
21. Hollow out the interior of whole Meyer lemons, fill them with Meyer lemon ice cream or lemon sorbet. Freeze.
22. Ant-proof the kitchen with lemon juice. Squirt lemon juice on thresholds and window sills. Squeeze lemon juice into any holes or cracks that the ants are entering. Scatter small slices of lemon peel around door entrances. Ants do not like the lemon fragrance and will not enter your home. Lemons are also effective against roaches and fleas. Reader’s Digest suggests a mixture of ½ gallon (2 liters) of water and the juice and rinds of four lemons. Wash the kitchen floor and the counters with this mixture and watch the insects leave.
23. Make a dipping sauce for grilled fish or shrimp from Meyer lemon juice, fresh chopped cilantro, basil and mint, minced garlic, ginger and chilies, and fish sauce.
24. Lemon juice is a mild alternative to bleach. Soak colorfast garments in a mixture of baking soda and lemon juice for ½ hour prior to washing. Lemon juice is much safer than bleach for whitening delicates.
25. Top blueberry pancakes with a spoonful of Greek yogurt and grated Meyer lemon zest.
26. Remove tough food stains from your cutting board by rubbing with lemon juice and baking soda. This will also kill germs and freshen the board.
27. Remove warts by applying lemon juice to the site daily until the wart falls off.
28. Potatoes, rice, and cauliflower will stay white by squeezing a teaspoon of fresh lemon juice into the cooking water.
29. Make those dull aluminum pots and pans sparkle. Rub the cut side of half a lemon all over them and buff with a soft cloth. For copper pots, rub them with a paste of juice and salt; rinse well with clear water; dry with a clean, soft cloth.
30. To clean cheese off of a grater, rub half of a juiced lemon over the grater.
For more information about lemon usage, read the original articles from which these tips were collected:
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