When I was growing up, we had the most beautiful mature citrus trees in our back yard. Two different kinds of oranges, grapefruits, pomegranates, and… lemons. I loved nothing more than to run out back and pick an orange right off the tree – always so juicy and sweet. But lemons we used mostly for lemonade. Imagine my joy when last summer we bought a house with three young citrus trees out back! *happy dance!* As they bloomed I will admit I was more than a little bummed that my dreams of fresh oranges were crushed at the arrival of tiny lemons all over my trees. Womp womp.
So when life gave me lemons I went on a quest to use them to make something delicious! I’ve now used them for everything. Cleaning the stubborn white flaky stuff out of my kitchen sink, skin care, and these tasty tidbits I’m about to show you how to make. And the best part? Not a single bit of the lemon is wasted! And they’re totally easy!
Here’s what you need:
2-3 organic lemons
2 cups water
2 cups sugar
Medium heavy-bottomed sauce pan
Begin by cutting the lemons in quarters. Juice the lemons into a bowl. After all the juice has been squeezed out, pull the membrane out and throw it away. You should be left with just the quarters of the peel, and the lemon juice.
Slice the peels lengthwise into strips, I like to cut them about 1/8″-3/16″ wide because I find this makes the best consistency once the candy dries.
Once all the rinds are cut, place them all in your sauce pan. Cover with water and bring them to a boil, then drain over a bowl. This is your “lemon water”. When you use orange peels you can usually get away with draining only once or twice, but lemons I like to boil this way 3-4 times. Taste the peels after each boiling – once you are satisfied with the flavor, move on to the syrup bath.
Make a simple syrup by combining 2 cups of water and 2 cups of sugar over medium-high heat until the sugar is dissolved and the syrup is boiling. Reduce the heat and simmer the peels one more time in this syrup, this time removing them from the heat once the pith (the white squishy part) is clear.
Here’s where you decide if you want dried candies, or to save them in the syrup (think over ice cream, or pancakes YUM!) For peels in syrup just pour the entire syrup and peel mixture into a canning jar and refrigerate.
For dried candies: Lay the drained peels out to dry. If you live in a humid climate you may need to dry them in a warm oven, but here in Arizona the counter does just fine. When they are dry, shake them in a bit of sugar and voila. Candies! I store these in canning jars as well, but any air tight container will do just fine! Don’t forget to save the syrup! Keep scrolling for more on how to use the cast offs 😉 These make an excellent garnish, or even an organic sweet treat!
Ok – so now you have yummy candies, some lemon water, lemon juice, and some really tasty simple lemon syrup. *disclaimer* I’m totally not responsible for how many times you will lick the spoon from the syrup. It’s that good. I use my lemon water (the first water bath your peels were boiled with) in the crock pot with chicken, a splash of your lemon juice, and a bit of pepper to make a really easy lemon chicken recipe. The possibilities are endless, really. And all from a couple of lemons! 🙂
The syrup makes a great base for home made buttercream frosting! Use the syrup in place of water, and a quick bit of the lemon juice along with your butter and powdered sugar. The cupcakes you see at the beginning of the post are yellow cake with lemon frosting, topped with the lemon candies and a dusting of powdered sugar! Good luck eating just one!
Love and Light,