THE office at the Northern Star has been drowning in buckets of lemons brought in by staff that have had a bumper crop.
Ideal weather conditions last summer (wet and hot) when the fruit was setting have produced enough to share (always the best way to get fruit next to growing your own).
I don't have a lemon tree at the moment and, having had at least one for many years at various homes, I think it's the thing I miss the most of all.
I grow herbs, but citrus don't do well where I am living at the moment so I haven't bothered planting one.
I've been used to sharing, whacking the juice of a lemon in just about every soup or casserole I cook, and the idea of eating any seafood, no matter what variety, is unthinkable for me without the crisp clean acid of a squeeze of lemon juice.
It's the key ingredient in the classic French dish, sole meuniere (or so I tell myself, in a vain effort to ignore the vast amount of browned butter that is the other key ingredient).
If you have plenty on your tree or donated by a neighbour or work colleague, you can also squeeze the juice and freeze it in those handy little ice cube bags from the supermarket.
As we know, ice cubes have an annoying habit of disappearing into the freezer universe a tiny bit at a time; the bags are terrific as you can just "punch out" as many as you need and they will keep for months on end.
You can also zest lemons (or any citrus fruit, for that matter) before juicing and freeze the zest in a plastic bag.
You can do the lot in one bag and just break off the amount you need for baking or sauces. Keep for up to three months.
Another way to use excess lemon peel is to remove all the white pith after peeling the fruit as finely as you can, then dry on a baking sheet covered with baking paper at 100°C for an hour or so; the peel should be shrunken but not coloured.
Remove from baking sheet and leave to cool and harden before grinding with a mortar and pestle or in a spice grinder. The resulting citrus dust is a treat sprinkled on grilled or pan-fried fish.
A simple tarte au citron, or citrus tart, is also a delicious way to get through those lemons.
Don't think about the calories; enjoy it in moderation and then go for a walk.
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