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Tons of lemons — what to do?

Hey everyone,

I woke up this morning to bags and bags of lemons from my neighbor's lemon trees. I have no idea what to do with them! What would you do if you suddenly got 10 pounds of free lemons?


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    1. +1 on the limoncello. I would also make preserved lemons. Several kinds of them- from regular to spicy ones.

        1. Lemon curd? Or invite your friends over.

          Lemon juice and lemonade freeze well. We had lime trees when I was growing up, and we used to freeze the juice in ice cube trays.

                1. re: sunshine842

                  I have always understood that, due to the eggs and butter, lemon curd does not have high-enough acid content and is not considered safe for hot water bath canning, but must be pressure canned. However, it freezes well!

              1. I had the same thing happen a couple of weeks ago when a friend was going away for a few weeks and decided to pick all her Meyer lemons. All the suggestions you got were great, but my best is to tell you neighbor there is no reason to pick them all they can stay on the tree. I have a Meyer lemon that has ripe fruit starting in January and I'm still picking in the fall with great flavor. It sets fruit more than one time so they are not ripe all at once. All I can say is don't throw away the peel, grate it fine and dry it at the very least. Good luck.

                2 Replies
                1. re: escondido123

                  I know! But the guy has five trees in his backyard, I think this is just an opening volley of lemons to come.

                  1. re: escondido123

                    That all depends on where you live. Here in San Diego, yes, they can hang but not in Arizona...where they pretty much need to be all picked by the end of April.

                  2. 1-Juice them and freeze the juice. 2-Give thanks. In Chicago they cost a dollar apiece.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Querencia

                      As for number two, trust me, I know. I'm originally from the Frozen East myself.

                      1. On another thread, there is a conversation about making your own citrus powder and what you can do with it... http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/748894.

                        Check that out.

                        1. Love the limencello idea. In addition , I would definitely make preserved lemons, lemon syrup, preserves such as caramelized onion and lemon, sweet Indian lemon pickles, and so on.

                          Would also use the (dried) zest to make seasoning blends such as lemon rosemary salt or lemon pepper.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: chefathome

                            Definitely preserved lemons! So useful for cooking. Just preserved some Meyer lemons too.

                          2. I have the same dilema! However watching Giada, her Aunt Raffy came up with something different that would work for me. She slices them very thin on her meat slicer (I have a mandoline) and then she dries them in her dehydrator. I've finally a reason to pull mine off the shelf! She uses them for tea during the months when lemons aren't around.
                            Also preserved lemons is another way to go.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: chef chicklet

                              However watching Giada, her Aunt Raffy came up with something different that would work for me. She slices them very thin on her meat slicer (I have a mandoline) and then she dries them in her dehydrator.
                              chicklet, have you seen our discussion about dried citrus powders?


                            2. FYI--you can pop whole lemons in the freezer...no need to juice them first. In fact they are much easier to juice when they have been frozen because all their little cell walls have been broken. You can't really zest them after freezing as they are too soft.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: sparkareno

                                Great tip. Thanks! I wonder if you could zest them first, since you only take off the thin top yellow layer, and then put them in a ziploc? I've frozen leftover zest for a short time before with good results.

                                1. re: bear

                                  I don't see why not. That's a good idea. When you defrost the lemons (sometimes I have to nuke them), they are pretty soft anyway---you can't really use them for nice wedges or slices. I sometimes don't even bother with the ziploc--just toss the whole thing in. I am going to try zesting some next time.

                              2. "If life deals you lemons, make lemonade"

                                (sorry, I tried to hold off as long as possible)

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: monku

                                  ...and try to find someone whose life has given them vodka, and have a party.

                                2. This is a Martha Stewart recipe that I made a few years ago, and have been having a hankering for lately. It is so good and creamy and tart. Makes me pucker just thinking about it.

                                  Rich Lemon Ice Cream

                                  {makes 1 quart}

                                  2 large eggs
                                  4 large egg yolks
                                  1 1/4 cups sugar
                                  3/4 cup fresh lemon juice (Martha says 5, took me 4 juicy ones)
                                  1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
                                  1 1/4 cups heavy cream
                                  1 cup milk (I used whole)

                                  1. Prepare an ice-water bath (a big bowl of ice and water). In a medium saucepan set over medium heat, whisk together the eggs, egg yolks, sugar, lemon juice and zest.
                                  2. Using a wooden spoon, stir constantly until the mixture coats the back of the spoon, 7 to 8 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in the cream and milk. Pour the mixture through a fine sieve or cheescloth-lined strainer into a clean bowl set over the ice-water bath to chill.
                                  3. Transfer the chilled mixture to an ice-cream maker, and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: jmcarthur8

                                    That sounds good! I just need to buy an ice cream maker, then!

                                  2. What a nice neighbour you have!

                                    Limoncello for sure; maybe a lemon sorbet or garnita?

                                    I remember throwing a baby shower for a friend a few years ago and the theme color was yellow. Of course, another girl brought over dozens of lemons as "decoration". I kept a bunch for myself and made lemon sorbet and a bunch of candied lemon peel for my colleagues. The girl who brought over the lemons saw me putting a wedge in my glass of water and said, "oh! I love lemon in my water. And to think I'd been going to restaurants for that." True story.

                                    5 Replies
                                    1. re: ladooShoppe

                                      You know how hard it is to cut lemons these days...

                                      Any good lemon sorbet recipes?

                                      1. re: SouthToTheLeft

                                        (I'm going to run with the idea that she just doesn't think about doing it when she's at home.)

                                        1. re: SouthToTheLeft

                                          Don't have a lemon sorbet recipe, but have been on a big granita kick lately. Just mix water, pureed fruit pulp and sugar and freeze, scraping with fork every 20-30 minutes so it's like a snow cone. You can also add herbs or other extra flavors (rosemary, lavender, mint, etc.) but with only 3 ingredients, these make tasty and fresh-tasting desserts or snacks. Easy as could be...

                                          1. re: SouthToTheLeft

                                            The Silver Palate cookbook has a good and simple sorbet recipe I use every year to help a friend whose trees are prolific. I add a smidge of vanilla, use a little less sugar, once added mint (yum) and this year added lavender (double yum).

                                            1. re: SouthToTheLeft

                                              Just google lemon sorbet recipes. They are all fairly similar -- lemon zest, lemon juice, and simple syrup. I've used the one from Emeril and it worked out fine.

                                          2. Ina Garten's lemon cake is quite good, and would take care of a few of those puppies.


                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: bear

                                              but, remember, it only works with "good" lemons.

                                              1. re: TroyTempest

                                                Hah. That's true. Wouldn't want those low-brow lemons.

                                            2. So I've made tons of lemon bars, and still lemons remain. In the interest of my waist line, does anyone have ideas for non-sweet things to do with the lemons?

                                              Perhaps lemon chicken? Good recipes for that?

                                              4 Replies
                                              1. re: SouthToTheLeft

                                                I remember a recipe by Nigella Larsen for a lemony chicken. I am going on memory, but cut up one chicken, cut up 3 lemons into chunks ( 8ths) mix in baking dish with olive oil and salt and pepper and several peeled garlic cloves. Bake uncovered at 250 f. yes 250, not 350- for 3 hours. The chicken gets infused with the lemon, and it is really good.
                                                Lemon chutney is also great, I am hooked on it. I make it with a combo of lemons and limes, it is so good with any meat, eggs, anything really!

                                                  1. re: SouthToTheLeft

                                                    if you've got some time on your hands, how about lemon marmalade? or preserved lemons?

                                                    - lemon rice (use the juice and the zest) with garlic, pepper, fresh herbs, & grated parm...you can even fold in some chopped roasted asparagus.
                                                    - roast them and serve with chicken or fish.
                                                    - lemon also plays really well with capers - piccata, anyone?

                                                    here's a link with some ideas for savory dishes:

                                                1. re: SouthToTheLeft

                                                  How about Rao's Lemon Chicken? Here's an older post. When I made it, two of us loved it and one thought it was way too lemony.

                                                  Here's an older post about it:


                                                  Here's another link to the recipe:


                                                  1. If you make lemonade and freeze it, keep in mind that you don't have to fully dilute it. I mix the juice and simple syrup, freeze in pint containers, and then defrost and dilute as needed with water when I want lemonade.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: jlafler

                                                      I would have to eat some of them. I had fresh from the tree lemons once many years ago and didn't make anything with them,just gobbled them down. I have chicken breasts in the crock pot right now with sliced lemon, lemon juice, lemon pepper, salt, garlic,onion, oregano,and basil. I'm planning to use the lemony broth to cook pasta in,then bone the chicken and add it to the pasta and add some fresh broccoli and some butter.I saw a Lemony Potatoes recipe somewhere recently but haven't tried that. I've made Lemon Barbecued Chicken for years,first got the recipe out of my Mom's Betty Crocker.
                                                      I envy you having all those lemons. That would be something completely different to work with,that many fresh lemons. I've dealt with endless green beans,(my son and I canned 256 quarts one year),baskets of okra and tomatoes, several hundred ears of corn that come on at once and hot peppers that grow more than we ever expected.

                                                    2. Lemon Risotto! I am also in the camp suggesting lemon curd. YUMMY! Nothing goes over better than a lemon tart in my house either.

                                                      3 Replies
                                                      1. re: LaureltQ

                                                        Laurel, do you have a good lemon risotto recipe you can share?

                                                        1. re: lilgi

                                                          this Bon Appétit recipe is a good one - i add a little minced fresh thyme and some sliced caramelized leeks.


                                                          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                            It's the one I have and Hazan's, but I'm just gonna add sorrel and a few porcini mushrooms. Thanks ;) Caramelized leeks, nice too!

                                                      2. I have some candied lemons boiling away on the stove ... wow, they are good!

                                                        1. Sounds arduous but juice the lemons and freeze. you can also grate and peel and save that too. Living in SoCal I didn't realize how much I appreciated lemons from a tree. I now live in Colorado and the lemons here are from the store only. sometimes costing up to 50 cents per lemon for non organic and even more for organic. or if you have the heart you can just send them to me ;)

                                                          2 Replies
                                                          1. re: trolley

                                                            @trolley...Last year I sent my sister-in-law and brother-in-law in Denver a large Flat Rate box full of lemons from my tree. They told me I didn't need to send them Christmas presents, the lemons were the perfect gift. :-)

                                                            1. re: buzzardbreath

                                                              yeah, the things you don't think about until you move to a landlocked state...

                                                            1. This Meyer Lemon Budino is amazing and you can make it with regular lemons:

                                                              1. This lemon curd was tasty and not as rich as other recipes I have seen/used:

                                                                1. A lot of these ideas work for regular lemons even though the list is for meyer lemons:

                                                                    1. Here's a great recipe for lemon icebox pie. It uses a full cup of fresh lemon juice, for a super puckery (but well balanced) flavor.

                                                                      Mr Taster

                                                                      Lemon Icebox Pie

                                                                      WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS:
                                                                      For just the right balance of sweet-tart flavor and cool, creamy texture, we combine nearly a cup of fresh lemon juice with egg yolks and sweetened condensed milk, making this one of the easiest pie fillings in our repertoire. A mere 15 minutes in the oven inside a buttery graham cracker crust sets the filling, and after it chills, we top it with a generous layer of fluffy whipped cream, sweetened with the extra condensed milk from the filling.

                                                                      SERVES 8

                                                                      We like Keebler Graham Crackers Original.


                                                                      9 whole graham crackers, broken into 1-inch pieces
                                                                      3 tablespoons sugar
                                                                      5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
                                                                      2 (14-ounce) cans sweetened condensed milk
                                                                      3 large egg yolks
                                                                      3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons lemon juice (5 lemons)
                                                                      1 cup heavy cream
                                                                      1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


                                                                      1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Process graham crackers and sugar in food processor until finely ground, about 30 seconds. Add melted butter and pulse until combined, about 8 pulses. Transfer crumbs to 9-inch pie plate. Using bottom of measuring cup, press crumbs into bottom and up sides of plate. Bake until crust is fragrant and beginning to brown, about 15 minutes. Let crust cool completely on wire rack, about 35 minutes. Increase oven temperature to 375 degrees.

                                                                      2. Reserve 3 tablespoons condensed milk. Whisk remaining condensed milk and egg yolks together in bowl until smooth. Slowly whisk in lemon juice. Pour filling into cooled pie crust. Bake pie until edges are beginning to set but center still jiggles when shaken, about 15 minutes. Let cool for 1 hour on wire rack. Refrigerate until chilled and set, at least 3 hours or up to 24 hours.

                                                                      3. Using stand mixer fitted with whisk, whip cream, reserved condensed milk, and vanilla on medium-low speed until foamy, about 1 minute. Increase speed to high and whip until stiff peaks form, 1 to 3 minutes. Spread whipped cream evenly over top of pie. Serve.