Plant a lemon tree. That should be everyone’s new years resolution. Think how achievable it is. You could tick it off by tomorrow and wave goodbye to those failed resolution lamentations. Lemons are so versatile that you can never have enough. Their true season is autumn & winter but the beauty is that as long as it’s hot enough a lemon tree will flower all year round. You don’t even need as much space as you think, just pick a dwarf variety. We started growing one on our apartment balcony.
Lemons are predominantly thought of as tangy and acidic but they’re not all sourpusses. The Meyer lemon is actually a sweet variety. When ripe its almost orange with the sweetest aroma and juiciest flesh. They’re great for sweet lemony desserts. If your looking for some lip pursing tang for savoury dishes or salad dressings try the Eureka or the Lisbon lemon.
Be choosy! No matter which variety you choose consider the following… Lemons are not naturally shiny. Someone, somewhere realised that people are attracted to bright and shiny things and started polishing lemons (and an array of other fruit) with wax. Would you eat a candle? Didn’t think so. Farmers markets are the best places to find unwaxed lemons but if you can’t just be sure to give them a good scrub with soapy water first.
- You get more juice out of a lemon if it is at room temperature and you roll it between your hands before juicing.
- The acidity of the lemon will vary with the colour, the yellower the fruit the less the acidity.
- For those trying to reduce their salt intake, lemon wedges can be served with meals as a salt substitute.
The healthy bits… Lemons are one of the best sources of Vitamin C in nature.* So good in fact that in the old sea-faring ‘let’s-discover-the-world’ days lemon juice was used to prevent Scurvy – that long forgotten disease of Vitamin C deficiency. The juice isn’t the only piece of goodness either. Lemon zest contains a bunch of the phytochemical limonene which is currently being investigated for its ability to dissolve gallstones and, you guessed it, its anti-cancer properties!*
Planted that tree and now have an over-abundance of lemons? You have options. Preserved lemons are delicious. Alternatively, first remove the zest and then juice the lemons. The zest can be frozen or dehydrated, your choice, and the juice can be frozen in ice-cube trays.
I’m no baker. But I have spent an inordinate amount of time figuring out how to convert my favourite sweet treats into healthier versions. Its simple enough when you know how. I want to share what I’ve learned, so I’ve decided to start a series of conversion posts that do just that. Demonstrate the healthier subs that won’t hurt the waistline and may even give you a nutritional boost instead. Enjoy!
For the really committed out there, I’d love to know which version you prefer?
Original Recipe by Guillaume Brahimi in French Food Safari (see library)
40gms coconut oil 40g unsalted butter
100g almond meal 100g plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
35 g brown rice syrup 100g castor sugar
1 1/2 tbsp – almond milk 1 1/2 tbsp cream
1/2 tsp vanilla powder dash vanilla essence
grated zest of one lemon
Note: The quantity of substitutions is all fairly self-explanatory except for the sugar. The original amount calls for a crazy amount of the white stuff so I started by halving that. Because I used a liquid sweetner instead of a dry one, I again reduced the quantity by about a third.
1. In a small pot, melt coconut oil.
2. In a small bowl combine the almond meal and baking powder.
3. In another bowl whisk together the egg, almond milk, vanilla seeds and lemon zest and then add to the bowl of dry ingredients along with coconut oil and brown rice syrup. Whisk till well combined.
4. Let the mixture rest for 1-2 hours in the fridge
5. Preheat oven to 170º and oil the madeleine moulds
6. Spoon the mixture into the moulds and bake for 6 minutes or until golden.
1. Place 100gms of whole almond in mixing bowl and mill 10secs/speed 9. Set aside.
2. Roughly cut lemon zest from lemon, add to mixing bowl, mill 10secs/speed 9. Scrape down sides of bowl
3. Add coconut oil and melt 1min/37º/speed 1
4. Add egg, almond milk, vanilla power and brown rice syrup. Mix 10secs/speed 7
5. Add almond meal. Mix 10secs/speed 7. Add baking powder. Mix 3 secs/speed 4
6. Remove mixture to a separate bowl and let rest for 1-2 hours in the fridge. (The purpose here is for the mixture to set a little. If left in the mixing bowl it is more difficult to remove mixture from around blades.)
7. Preheat oven to 170º and oil the madeleine moulds
8. Spoon the mixture into the moulds and bake for 6 minutes or until golden.