Use Lemons Like A Boss
I've been juicing half a lemon in water every morning for probably 5 years or more now. It's become one of my non negotiables; the habits I absolutely do not skip on any day of the week. I remember going out of town for the evening once and panicking because I didn't have a lemon for the morning and all grocery stores were closed. At the time we were having some drinks, so I asked the server if we could buy a lemon...and sure enough we did! Those are the lengths I go to.
I was starting to feel extremely guilty for composting all of my peels as of late; I just felt like there had to be something I could use them for! So I fired up the Google, and proceeded to buy myself a lemon zester. How amazing! Now I have lemon rind for salads and baking. For FREE people!!! I just save it up in a small jar in the fridge and it's now getting to the point where I have to freeze it because of the abundance. A lemon a day adds up fast!
Part 2 was now the rinds. They're bitter, but got dang it I was determined to find a use for them. I was actually very surprised to find almost nothing for just the pith but the stars were aligned that day and I stumbled upon one recipe that led to an inspiration. This woman made what was called Lemon Spoon Fruit. After making it (sans the sugar it called for), as good as it was the form it was in wasn't going to fit into my regular life as it was meant to be a dessert. We don't really do dessert, that's for special occasions. I was looking for a way to use my piths consistently (because they accumulate fast) so I switched it up, and thus the Lemon Menjunjito was born!
"Menjunje" translates from Spanish to "concoction", and I'm all about concotionating (not a real word). So here it is!
8-12 lemon rinds (and yes, you could do this with orange/grapefruit/lime rinds...)
500ml fruit purée or 2-4 cups fresh or frozen fruit
Honey or stevia (optional)
Always wash your lemons before juicing so they're prepped for the next step in their life cycle. After you've removed the precious rind, you can save up the pith until you have about 8-12 lemons worth. I keep them in the fridge in glass containers; you could freeze them if you want to do this less often.
Cut off the pointy ends and compost those then quarter the rinds.
Throw them in a pot with water just covering them. I like to use a pot with a strainer to make it easier. Bring to a rolling boil for a minute or so, then discard the water and do that 3 more times. This is blanching the piths which is removing most of the bitterness.
After you discard the last water, remove the strainer piece and place all the piths in the pot and add a bit of water. Here you can either add in fruit purée that you have on hand, or you can add in any fresh or frozen fruit that you need to use up. I hardly ever have 2 batches the same of anything because I always try to use what I have so nothing goes to waste and I don't need to make special trips to the store just to follow a recipe.
Add in the fruit purée or fresh or frozen fruit. Essentially the more fruit you use the sweeter it will be. The sweetness will also depend on the fruit you use; adding pineapple will be sweeter than apples for example. Stir occasionally, especially at the beginning so nothing sticks to the bottom of the pot.
Once you've cooked it so everything is hot and it's started to thicken up, take out your hand blender and start to blend it into a purée. Blend until all big chunks are gone and you will end up with a thick chunky mix. Now taste it. My preference is to not add any sweeteners; you can add more fruit here but honey or even stevia if you like it are just fine. If you added more fruit you'll need to cook it a little longer and blend again.
Once it tastes the way you like it and has a thick consistency, allow it to cool in the fridge. Then transfer it to smaller jars that you can freeze for later use.
So now what you ask? What do I do with this? Well my friends, you can use it the same way as the fruit purée, in muffins like I do or use it to experiment in other recipes by substituting it as part of the liquid. I'm working on a protein bar recipe that I've been using, it gives them a wonderful lemon taste.
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