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Margaret's Lemon Drops PDF Printable Version E-mail

 

LEMON DROPS

Margaret Williamson
March 2012

Lemon tree, very pretty
And the lemon flower is sweet
But the fruit of the poor lemon
Is ... so very very useful!

Delia Smith (no less) said 'I'd as soon be without lemons as apples and I'm never without apples!'

If you'reMarmalade_making_in_Olympia.JPG wintering on the shores of the Mediterranean, be it in Portugal, Spain, Sicily or (in our case) Greece, you may be lucky enough to have citrus fruit free for the picking or cheaply on sale at the local market. Oranges are easy, just eat or squeeze for some juicy vitamin C, but many campers seem to have little use for lemons beyond puttinLemon_Drops_(12).JPGg a slice in their drinks.

Here at Camping Finikes (at the southern end of the Messinian Peninsula in the Greek Peloponnese), the oranges and grapefruit have all been taken, while large lush lemons still hang from the trees. They last longer than oranges, both before and after picking, keep for weeks and travel well. A fine grater and a small plastic lemon squeezer are all you need to transform many sweet or savoury dishes with a hint of zest or juice. The freshness and size of lemons (and oranges) is one of the things I most miss when leaving Greece.

Here are a few of the things I make.

Marmalade

I use a mixture of oranges and lemons and ordinary granulated sugar to make 6 jars (each 1lb or 0.45 kg) at a time in the pressure cooker. It never fails to set and keeps for a year, stored under the bed. Made in the campsite kitchen, the only cost is the sugar! Several recipes in the pressure cooker book or look on-line.

Lemon Curd

If you don't have the necessary jars, pan and space for marmalade, you can always make delicious lemon curd in smaller quantities. It keeps for up to 6 weeks in the fridge, or freezes well (in a plastic tub or empty margarine pots), and is lovely for the filling in a lemon sponge cake or on pancakes or in a lemon Bakewell tart. Lemon curd can be made in a pressure cooker, a microwave, a slow cooker or on the stove (in a bowl set over a pan of boiling water)! Here at Camping Finikes we can even buy fresh eggs from the campsite chickens, which enrich the gorgeous golden colour. Described by Delia as 'so simple a child can make it', her recipe for a cake filling follows (double it for a larger quantity):

3 oz/75g sugar
1 large lemon (grated rind and juice)
2 large eggs
2 oz/50g butter or margarine, cut into little pieces

Put grated rind and sugar in a bowl. Whisk the lemon juice with the eggs, then pour the mixture over the sugar. Add butter, then place bowl over pan of simmering water. Stir frequently until thickened (about 20 minutes). Pour into a jar or tub and leave to cool and set.

Cakes and Baking

There are plenty of recipes around (just Google) for lemon drizzle cakes, lemon meringue pie and lemon cheesecake, all firm favourites with us. Cakes can be made in the gas oven or the microwave, though for the latter you need a microwaveable round or loaf-shape container made of plastic or silicone. In fact, silicone is wonderful for motorhomers, being lightweight, silent to transport and useable in oven, freezer or microwave. I bought a variety of silicone shapes at Lidl. I find Pyrex dishes OK for puddings.

SOME RECIPES:

Lemon Bakewell Tart

This is also known as Lancaster Lemon Tart - and I'm from Lancashire. You need a pie plate covered with (unbaked) short-crust pastry, made with 100g flour and 50g fat. Spread 3 or 4 generous spoonfuls of lemon curd over the pastry, then make the topping:

3 oz/75g butter or margarine
4 oz/100g SR flour
3 oz/75g sugar (caster, if you have it, but I only carry granulated)
1 beaten egg
1 oz/25g ground almonds
Zest and juice of a lemon
1 oz/25g halved or flaked almonds

Cream butter and sugar, beat in egg, fold in ground almonds and flour, then add the lemon. Spread this mixture evenly over the tart, then sprinkle halved or flaked almonds on top. Bake at 400 F/200 C for 15 minutes (to cook the pastry) then reduce heat to 300 F/150 C for another 15 or 20 minutes, till set. Serve warm or cold with cream. Don't try to microwave this, it's not good for pastry!

Basic Lemon Sponge

Cream together 4 oz/100 g margarine, 4 oz/100 g sugar, 2 eggs, 4 oz/100 g SR flour and a tbsp of lemon juice, to a soft consistency. Add grated rind of a lemon. Cook in microwave till set (at least 6 minutes) or bake for 20-30 minutes at 325 F/170 C. Whilst still hot, sprinkle sugar over the top and pour the rest of the juice from the lemon over. Leave to cool. You now have a lemon sponge with lemony topping, to fill with lemon curd.

Eve's Pudding with Lemon

The flavour of apples is sharpened with lemon. Put apple slices in base of dish, with juice of a lemon and sugar to taste, cover and microwave for 5 minutes till stewed. Spread the basic lemon sponge mix (above) over cooked apples and microwave (uncovered) for 7 or 8 minutes, till risen and cooked. Can also be made in the oven.

Lemon Yogurt Cake

This is especially quick and easy, as no weighing scales are needed, just a yogurt pot for a measure.

1 carton plain yogurt
2 cartons sugar
half a carton olive oil
2 cartons SR flour
2 eggs (separated).

Optional: rind and juice of an orange or lemon + 2 teaspoons sugar

Mix all ingredients except egg whites and juice together.
Whisk egg whites stiff and fold into mix. Pour into greased cake or loaf tin. Bake 45 minutes at 350 F/180 C.
Option: While still hot, sprinkle with sugar and pour lemon or orange juice over the top to soak in.

Lemon Cream Pie

This is the easiest and most indulgent lemon dessert - an American recipe given to me by an English friend in Greece (thanks, Gordon!)

Base:

Mix 4 oz crushed digestive biscuits with 2 oz melted margarine and a tablespoon of sugar.
Press into a pie plate or flan dish, to cover the base and press up the sides with the back of a spoon. Bake for 5 minutes or so at 300 F/160 C, till firm. Leave to cool.

Filling:

Whip pint cream until fairly stiff. Mix with 6 oz (half a large tin) of sweet condensed milk.
Slowly add the grated rind and juice of 2 lemons and stir well.
Pour over baked biscuit base and chill for several hours.
Decorate with candied lemon slices and swirls of whipped cream for a special occasion!

And if you're not sure what to do with the rest of the condensed milk double the other ingredients and make 2 pies! (You could also use it to make ice cream or millionaire's shortbread ... Google for recipes.)

Lemonade

This recipe makes a strong lemon cordial, to be drunk diluted to taste with cold water (add a slice of lemon and an ice cube to the glass if you like). It will keep for a month or so in the fridge in plastic bottles. We never go cycling without home-made lemonade in our bike bottles it's an excellent energy drink! If this is too much, you can halve the amount.

1 large lemon and 1 orange (or you can use 2 lemons)
2 lb granulated sugar
3 pints boiling water
1 oz citric acid (a white powder)

Put sugar and citric acid in a large bowl. Add the roughly chopped fruit, together with about half the peel. Pour boiling water over it all and stir until sugar dissolves. Cover bowl with a tea towel and leave to stand overnight. Next day, strain through a sieve into jug and pour into bottles.

I've been making this for over 40 years (hence the imperial measures) but the problem now is finding citric acid in the UK. It used to be available at Boots (winemaking dept) but I was told they are no longer allowed to sell it, as it's used by dealers anChristmas_Gifts_at_Aginara_Beach.JPGd addicts to cut their drugs. Do I look like a drug addict, I wondered?! I finally found some at the winemaking and brewing stall at Oswestry Market, kept under the counter and only sold to those who asked for it (and didn't look like addicts). However, it's on sale in other countries just look and ask. I last bought some in Romania!

On the left, lemons are included in these home-grown Christmas gifts we received from Yorgo, the owner/manager at Camping Aginara Beach in the Greek Peloponnese.

Limoncello Liqueur

A German neighbour here in Greece tells me she uses lemons to make Limoncello, based on pure alcohol bought in Italy. You could try making it with vodka but I don't think we'd cycle far on that! Google for recipes.

Lemon Soup

I did try a recipe in my Good Housekeeping Microwave book for lemon soup, though it was not a favourite. It did have other ingredients (onion, carrot, celery, cream) but proved to be the only soup we've ever needed to add sugar to make it edible. Not recommended!

Salad Dressings

Use lemon juice instead of vinegar in your favourite salad dressing recipe, it will be sharp without tasting so acidic.

Descaling Kettles

The downside of enjoying plentiful free lemons in Greece is that the hard water quickly furs up electric kettles. At least the lemon juice can be used (rather than vinegar or citric acid) for weekly descaling of the kettle. Fill kettle with water, boil and unplug. Add juice of a lemon and leave to fizz for 15 minutes. Empty, rinse out, then refill, boil and discard water.

Conclusion

So there are plenty of uses for the lemon, as well as squeezing wedges over fish or pork chops not that there is anything wrong with that.

Enough I must go to photograph (and pick) a lemon or two.

Readers' Recipes

Please feel free to send me your own recipes suitable for cooking in a motorhome and, of course, involving the lemon! Just Contact Us. There is plenty of space below!

Lemon Meringue Pie

I am grateful for the following recipe sent by motorhomer Christine Strawson:

1 baked pastry or crushed biscuit flan case-about 7ins diameter.

Filling:
1 lemon
4 oz sugar
2 egg yolks
10z cornflour
1/2pt water
1 oz butter

Topping:
2 egg whites
3 oz sugar

(Adjust quantities up for bigger pie)

Lemon_Meringue_Pie.JPGCut the whole lemon in 4 pieces
Liquidise together with the sugar, egg yolks, cornflour and water until
the lemon is thoroughly minced up.
Pour everything through a sieve into a pan, using a spoon to press the liquid through.
A spoonful of the minced lemon solids ( any chopped pips removed) makes the result even more lemony.
Add the butter and cook, stirring constantly until it thickens.
Continue cooking and stirring for 2 minutes until the mixture is quite thick.
Cool and then fill the flan case

Whisk the egg Lemon_Pie.JPGwhites
Add 1/3 of the sugar in the last stages and continue until the mixture is stiff
Fold in the remaining sugar by hand
Pile the meringue on top of the filling making sure it comes to the edges.
Dust lightly with granulated sugar
Put in a moderately hot oven ( 180 200 deg C / gas 4-6) for 5-10 minutes
until the meringue peaks are golden brown.

This can be made with an orange or 2 limes instead of a lemon. We've tried it with grapefruit but were not impressed.

Cooking with Lemons

Motorhomer Helen Homewood sent a couple of tips for using lemons in savoury dishes:

Dust liver with flour, then cook quickly in thin slices and leave slightly pink. Finish with lemon juice and chopped parsley.

Salt and drain tender young courgettes, then saute gently and finish with lemon juice and finely chopped parsley or chives.

The Medicinal Use of Lemons

Lemon juice diluted with hot water and honey to taste is a well known remedy for colds and sore throats. Swallow a paracetamol tablet with it, for a home made 'Lemsip'.

Thanks again to Helen Homewood, here are more medicinal uses:

Lemons are one of the best panaceas, and the juice and peel have different useful properties.

Squeeze the juice over oysters, or any fish or shellfish. Leave for 10 minutes and it kills any bugs. (Source: Dr Jean Valnet, Aromatherapy)

A few slices of lemon purify a jug of water.

If you have bitten the inside of your cheek, cut a piece of lemon flesh and hold it in your mouth.

Amazingly, for sticky eyes, styes or conjunctivitis, bathing with a few drops of lemon juice, possibly diluted slightly, works a treat.

Very good for sore finger nails too.

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