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Ask a Foodie: How to Handle a Generous Harvest of Lemons

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Q. My parents had a very fruitful harvest from their lemon tree, over 400 lemons before the big freeze.  They have juiced the lemons and frozen hundreds of cubes, made lemonade, used the zest for lemon poppy seed muffins, looked into making lemon extract (but are not big vodka drinkers and don’t want to invest in a bottle…). They’re trying to brainstorm other recipes to try before the crop ripens any more. Any other lemon-filled suggestions? They still have a ton. Any recipes requiring lots of lemons would be great. —H.H.

A. First, I invite anyone with the same “problem” to check in and comment here with any tips you have.

Next, I congratulate your folks, H.H.,  on their terrific crop: A wealth of lemons is a good thing. Before we get to food preparation tips, have your folks thought about donating some of the fruit to a food bank or giving away baskets to friends or take them to their church? Just an idea, especially if they get tired of lemon processing.

Here are a few other suggestions and links to recipes:

1. Make preserved lemons. These are great for Middle Eastern dishes and are supposed to be easy to make. Check out a recipe and method at

2. Lemon Curd: Nearly everyone loves lemon curd, and it is useful in many ways (including eating by the spoonful out of a bowl). A couple of jars of good lemon curd also makes great gifts.  Look for a recipe at

3.  Try the recipe, below, for Honey Lemon Marmalade, from  The author says the lemons require some knife work — and you might want to be sure you don’t have any paper cuts on your hands before you begin. But, it’s one way to use up 14 lemons.

Honey Lemon Marmalade

8 cups chopped lemons (14 lemons)
2 cups honey (I used buckwheat honey, but you can use whatever you’ve got)
4 cups white sugar
1 1/2 cups water
2 packets liquid pectin (6 ounces)

Sterilize your jars (try using a combination of pint and half pint jars).

Combine lemons, honey, sugar and water together in non-reactive pot. Bring to a boil, reduce temperature and let simmer for 30 minutes.

Add pectin to the fruit and let it gently boil for 5 minutes.

Remove from heat and fill jars. Apply lids and rings and process in a water bath for ten minutes. Let the marmalade sit overnight, to give the pectin time to fully activate.

Makes 6 pints.


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5 Responses to “Ask a Foodie: How to Handle a Generous Harvest of Lemons”

  1. Pingo says:

    Hello Bonnie,
    What is “liquid pectin” and how is it bought (brand names?). I make my own home made jam (using fresh or frozen fruit and cutting down plenty on the sugar). I have been using “jelling stuff” my family send me from my home country. But it would be so much easier, if I could buy it here.
    I am so envious of all the lemons and limes you get where you are. Here the prices are unbelievable. Yesterday it was $1 for one lemon, but I had to have it 🙁

  2. Kristina says:

    Wow- 400 lemons… With some of them, consider squeezing them for juice and freezing it in ice-cube trays. Later when it gets warm again, you can quickly make lemonade. Or you can add a cube in a smoothie that is particularly sweet or just a plain glass of water. But my God- 400. That is a lot!

  3. John Griffin says:

    When I lived in Florida, I had the same blessing with grapefruit in my backyard. My parents would come to visit every winter, and Mom would squeeze and freeze most every grapefruit she could reach on the tree. She also made marmalade, as Bonnie suggests, which would make a great gift for others any time of the year.

  4. Thanks Bonnie for the great post! My parents did already give away TONS to neighbors (I also stuck 50 in a box for a white elephant Christmas party!!)

    I just sent my parents the link and know how appreciative they are! Thanks for taking the time to put this together!

    They also would put sliced lemons in the garbage disposal for the fruitful, clean smelling benefit! 😀

    *Also look for a similar question for next year’s harvest…I believe this year they’ll also be growing apples (on top of the lemons, blackberries, blueberries, etc. that my mom’s already grown…)

    • Hi GB- you’re welcome. A friend sent me a note and said another use would be dried lemon slices. They’d work for a potpourri, perhaps, or a dried fruit and flower arrangement (I don’t make this stuff so I’m a little out of my range, here.) good luck!