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 and sweet but sharp, with good thick pith and skin – I have had lemons here that are pure sherbet.

The lemon season starts in December but 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 un-sqeezed lemons. They get stored in the fridge once they are zested ‘cos otherwise they deteriorate very quickly but the juice always gets used up pronto. Into dressings, over fish, over lamb, into sauces, into sorbets and ice creams and most excellently into lemonade. Homemade lemonade. 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 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 year and is unsurpassable for fine zesting lemons (and creating snow-like grated parmesan). It is called a Microplane and was invented by a carpenter-cum-home chef. He was making spaghetti for his kids and couldn’t find the grater so went to his workshop, 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.

  • 7 good sized lemons make around 500ml
  • 250g sugar
  • 500ml lemon juice
  • 1.75l water
  • Zest the lemons, though you can forego this is you have a fridge full of zested lemons!
  • Squeeze the lemons.
  • Add juice, zest and sugar and dissolve over slow heat.
  • Sieve out the zest.
  • At this point you have cordial and this will keep in your fridge till hell freezes over.
  • When needed pour half 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.