Growing up, we didn’t eat a lot of fresh lemons in our day-to-day lives. I don’t mean that we never had lemons. We had loads of lemon-flavored things like candy, cakes, cookies and lemonade, but whole fresh lemons were something we’d have at restaurants or special events. Our mom wouldn’t buy them because she had a crowd to feed, and spending $3.00 for a garnish just wasn’t in the budget. This is slightly funny when you realize Florida (my home state) produces about 70% of the citrus sold in the United States!
So it should come as no surprise that I didn’t start using fresh lemons until later in my adult life, but boy, oh boy, have I made up for lost time! From fresh sliced lemon over fish, to dried in a sautée with pork and olives, to giving a tangy pop to a sauce, to adding flavor to a sweet and tart dessert, it has easily become one of the most used ingredients in my kitchen.
This recipe is a great way to extend the life of your lemons (and other citrus!) and give you a consistent product through the off-season. Throw them into a tomato sauce with some olives, add to your poaching liquid for fish or chicken, or toss a slice into a cup of tea! You can also use a clean coffee grinder or a mortar and pestle to grind the lemon slices for adding to any kind of marinade that needs a bright dash of summer! You can even grind them into a fine power and make your own lemon pepper!
- 4 medium whole lemons
- 1 food dehydrator
- Wash your lemons and dry with a clean kitchen towel.
- Using a sharp knife, slice the lemons into 1/8 inch (3.18 mm) circles starting at the stem end, and working down to the flower end. (You can go flower end to stem as well if you prefer.)
- Place the lemon slices side by side in one layer on your dehydrator trays. You can line your trays with BPA-free plastic wrap if you're concerned about sticking.
- Dehydrate at 122 F (50 C) for 15 hours, or until the lemon slices are completely dry. If you do not remove as much water as possible, you run the risk of the product growing mold and ruining your whole batch. You can store the lemon slices in a glass or plastic container with a tight fitting lid for up to 6-8 months. If you place them in a vacuum sealed container, they can be kept 12 months or longer.
- If you don't have a dehydrator, or you'd like to do this the old fashioned way, set a tray of lemon slices out on your window ledge or your back patio, and let the sun do its job for a few days! This should be done in a dry climate, in the fall or winter. Spring might be too wet, and summer brings too many bugs!