Monday, March 2, 2009

Preserving your citrus: lemon, grapefruit, oranges, oh my!

Okay, so was looking at my stats this morning, and I realized this poor, neglected place is getting nearly as many hits as my REAL blog! Fact is, I've been feeling rather guilty, cause I've been busy baking like crazy with all kinds of...gasp!, I won't say it! terrible, but delicious!...WHITE FLOUR. 

Yes, I know white flour is like poison, blah blah blah, and my guess is that Paula Deen and Ina Garten know it, too. But sometimes, you just need a lemon curd tart with a shortbread crust. It isn't your fault.

The food storage lady is all about moderation. In all things.

Pardon her while she brushes the tart crumbs off of her yoga pants.

So I have been baking up all things lemon because my lemon tree is full of ripe and juicy fruit. And I always use the lemon zest because it is maybe the best tasting part of the fruit. I have been thinking that soon it will be time to pick most of them and juice and freeze them (in two cup increments in freezer bags) for use in the next year. I do leave some on the tree, and they stay good into summer, though eventually they get fried in the Arizona sun, just like every other living thing does, in this oven of a desert in which I live...

Did I mention it is supposed to be 91 DEGREES here today? On March 2nd?

In the past, I have juiced the lemons, and thrown away the rinds with a sad heart. But lately I've been reading that zest freezes well, either in small portions in an airtight bag or container, or-get this!- still on the rind! So after I juice the lemons this year, I'm going to stick (some of) the empty shells in the freezer, so I can have my Pierre Herme lemon curd all the whole year long!

Or Country Strawberry Cake, which is really super delicious. Is like the best strawberry shortcake EVER. Trust me.
Or Brown Derby grapefruit cake, courtesy of Paula Deen! (I have grapefruits, too)
Or Tangerine Chiffon Pie, from Martha.

Or this Strawberry lemonade slush, which we drink all summer long:

1 cup frozen lemon juice
5 frozen strawberries (I get the big bags from Costco)
water, ice
sugar to taste (it really depends on the sweetness of your lemons and strawberries)
Blend in your blender until smooth (I use my Bosch blender attachment)

P.S. I always use more zest than the recipe says. Especially in the curd and the strawberry cake. I have tiny rasp-wielding zesters at my house (my kids). 

Have you tried any other ways of preserving citrus juice or zest? Or any other good recipes? Has anyone ever canned her own marmalade?

Let me know!