Tuesday, April 20, 2010

When Mom Brings You Lemons...


My parents came for a visit for Easter and brought with them a generous plethora of goodies and gifts: chocolate bunnies, jellybeans, clothes and LEGOs for the kids; handmade soaps, coupons and more for me. And yes, past-their-prime lemons and a couple of apples. Mom didn't want to leave them to rot on her counter at home while they were away, so she brought them to my counter. Where they sat for the entire visit. I convinced her to throw the apples to the wild animals in the woods (which I'm sure are there) but the lemons remained after she'd left. Each day I would look at those lemons and think, "I can't believe she left me her rotting lemons. I really should do something with them." But as I am my mother's daughter, I couldn't bring myself to throw the them away either. Waste not, want not.

Finally, one afternoon I cut them in half and squeezed all of the juice out into a glass measuring cup. Don't you know, lemons are so much easier to squeeze when the peels are withered down to leathery thin-ness? I had exactly one cup of juice. I sniffed it. It smelled okay. I tentatively took a sip: the faintest hint of elderly citrus, but still edible. I brainstormed clever recipe ideas that would disguise the aging fruit after-taste and compared the results with the clock on the wall. I didn't have time for anything complicated. How long would lemon juice last in the refrigerator, I wondered? Would it last longer as juice than as a whole fruit? That stuff in the yellow squeeze bottle isn't even refrigerated in the grocery stores. Is it lemon juice substitute? Are there citrus preservatives I'm not aware of?

As I pondered all of this and more, I realized it was a hot day and there was one recipe that wouldn't last long enough in our house to hear the familiar refrain, "Does this smell funny to you?" So here it is. When your mom gives you her old lemons, make lemonade. Just drink it before it gets to the state of natural carbonation.

Old-fashioned (or just plain old) Lemonade

1 cup lemon juice
3/4 cup granulated sugar (may need to up this to 1 cup, depending on the age of your lemons)
5 cups water

Heat 1 cup of water in the microwave. Dissolve the sugar in the hot water, making a simple syrup. Add simple syrup and lemon juice to a pretty glass pitcher. Pour in remaining ice-cold water. Drink quickly.

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