A lemon is a workhorse: It is used more than almost any other citrus fruit for its juice, as a garnish, to provide sauces with a lift, or to cut through rich, heavy dishes. And it can do more still. These other uses for lemons make the most of this cheery little fruit:
Peels and all: When a recipe calls for the juice of a lemon, the skin is often tossed in the compost once the juice is squeezed. But there is a much better use of the peel's massively concentrated flavor than feed the microbes. Cut the peel off in strips and use it to flavor olive oil or vinegar. Use the zest to make a compound butter or rub it into sugar to give your baked goods a subtle brightness. It is much easier to remove the zest before juicing. Or just save the plain, dried zest, spread it in a thin layer and toast in a low-heat oven for about an hour to dry, for flavoring just about anything.
The clean scene: The citric acid that gives lemons their bright flavor and welcome astringency is also the same thing that gives lemon juice its antibacterial properties. Use a little juice — or the spent skin of a juiced lemon — to help degrease pans or clean wooden cutting boards, marble and countertops. Microwave a sliced lemon in water for two minutes to make cleaning handheld appliances easier, and even clean a gummy cheese grater by rubbing it with a lemon half.
Freshen up: All that lemon-peel flavor has got a powerfully good aroma, too. Toss peels (just the zest without the pith and pulp) into the bottom of your trash can or tuck some away in your fridge. Slice a lemon and boil it uncovered on stovetop to make things, especially frying pans, smell fresh and clean again.
Nonstick seafood: To keep seafood from sticking to grill or roasting or broiler pan, set it atop lemon slices. The citrus provides just enough distance to keep the proteins in the fish from binding to the cooking surface, and the moisture in the lemons helps cook the fish by adding flavorful steam.
Perk up produce: Using lemon juice to prevent produce like avocados, apples and potatoes from browning. Use a little juice to revive limp lettuce, too. Simply squeeze a small amount into a bowl of cold water, then submerge the lifeless leaves into the bowl and refrigerate for about an hour. Dry well and your salad will be back on track.
Homemade lemon curd
Making lemon curd by hand is not only rewarding but also a great store-cupboard staple. Here is a quick recipe to make lemon curd.
Preheat the oven to 140°C and place dry, washed jars, upside down, on a rack for 30 minutes to sterilize.
Whisk four eggs and four egg yolks in a large heatproof bowl until well combined. Add 200g caster sugar and stir in zest of three lemons and juice of six lemons. Add 150g cubed unsalted butter and set bowl over a saucepan of very gently simmering water, making sure the bowl does not touch water.
Stir for five minutes, until butter melts, then whisk for 10-12 minutes. Lemon curd should have the consistency of custard and leave light trail when the whisk is lifted.
Pour hot lemon curd into warmed, sterilised jars and leave to cool. Cover with a disc of waxed paper or baking parchment and seal with a lid. Keep in fridge and use within two weeks.