As they say, if you have lemons, make lemonade! The perfect ratio of which is 1 cup of lemon juice to 1 cup of sugar in 1 1/2 quarts of cold water, by the way! That’s certainly a fine idea that can be made, sipped with friends, and even frozen into popsicles. But there are so many more ways to preserve your lemons!
To start, lemons will last on your tree, probably longer than in your refrigerator. If you’re growing lemons, just keep them on your tree as long as you can. Once picked, they’ll last two to four weeks in the refrigerator.
If you have a juicer, you can juice your lemons and then freeze the lemon juice in batches until you’re ready to use it. In the refrigerator, it will last only a few days before it starts to taste bitter, but frozen, it can last up to a year or more.
You can slice or chop up lemons and freeze them in ice cubes for an easy refresher in your water, but you can also freeze larger slices for drinks too. Simply freeze the lemon slices on a lined sheet pan first, before putting them in a freezer bag (this will help with sticking).
I highly recommend making candied lemons (see recipe). Try to make them on a day when it’s not too hot and humid; you’ll be simmering sugar syrup for an hour or more. The simmering time is really a rough guide; what you want to watch for is when the lemon slices go from looking like regular old lemons and suddenly start to look like little stained glass windows in your saucepan. Then you know they’re ready to drain and dry off.
Some people like to put them in a warm oven (200 degrees F) for an hour to dry them out. You can do that if you like. Or you can just leave them on a wire rack to dry out overnight.
Keep them in an airtight container in the fridge. They’ll last for up to a month—if you can resist eating them!
Yes, you can make liqueur with your lemons! Just follow our recipe for Meyer Lemon Limoncello—we even made a whole video on how to make it from scratch! This Meyer Lemon Limoncello takes at least two weeks to make, so be sure to start it ahead of time. If you want it to be even more concentrated, let it sit for a month. The longer it sits, the more lemony it becomes.
The most historical way to preserve lemons is with salt, and you’ll find many Middle Eastern recipes call specifically for preserved lemons. You simply need 10 lemons, 1/2 to 1 cup of kosher salt, and a canning jar. Wash and scrub your lemons, then quarter and sprinkle with salt. Also add about 2 tablespoons of salt to the bottom of your canning jar and start adding your lemons in, pressing down as you go to release all the juices. Make sure the lemons are totally submerged in juice, even if you have to add more, then add 2 more tablespoons of salt to the top of the tightly packed jar and seal. Leave it out on the counter for a few days, flipping over once every day. Refrigerate for three weeks until the lemons are totally soft. When you want to use one, just rinse off the salt, chop it up, and go for it! You can use the lemons for up to six months in your recipes, generally chopped and added as a garnish, or in salads, or rice.
How do you make the most of your lemons? Leave a comment below!