March 2 – Scarcity and Abundance

by Martha Slavin


The citrusy smell of Meyer lemons fills the kitchen as I slice one after another of our crop of Meyer lemons. As with any fruit/citrus-bearing trees, our Meyer lemon trees produce all at once. How do I make use of such abundance?

I think once again about having a little of something and too much of something and how quickly I stop prizing an abundance. I savor a small quantity of something to make it last. Once I have a lot of something, it no longer seems precious enough to glean every last drop.

This is the week to do something with them before their skins start to go soft. I’ve already given two bags to our house cleaners. I’ve taken a couple of bags to the Urban Farmers (a local organization who will take excess produce), I’ve sliced them for water at Craft Day, squeezed them for a morning drink of water with lemon juice, and stuffed them into whole chickens. I used to make limoncello with the remainder.

We first tasted limoncello, a lemon-infused liqueur, while we were living in Tokyo and frequented an Italian restaurant around the corner from our apartment. As a parting gift at the end of our dinner, the staff would present us with a shot glass of this mellow liqueur.

Limoncello is easy to make, uses lots of lemons, and is good as a gift. I stopped making it though, after the year when I waited too long and the lemons grew soft and dried out sitting on the counter. The limoncello had no flavor. I knew that it was time to let go of making limoncello because what once had been fun had become a chore.

Here’s my recipe for limoncello. Just be sure to use fresh, juicy lemons:

Peel 20 fresh lemons with a vegetable peeler. Use the peeler or a sharp knife to remove the white pith on the inside. Soak peels in 100-proof vodka for about a week at room temperature. Test the peels. If they crack apart, the batch is ready. If they are still flexible, put them back for more soaking. When ready, add three cups of sugar and three cups of water. Heat over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Let cool. Have ready coffee filters and clean glass jars. Strain the mixture through the filters into the jars. Seal, and chill for about a month. Then sample!

I’ve looked for other recipes for lemons, but most of them require only a little juice or a little zest or they are desserts, not enough to support the bags of lemons I have left. Maybe this year I will try limoncello one more time.

Do you have good uses or good recipes for Meyer lemons?

Martha Slavin is an artist and writer. She writes poetry, memoir pieces, and essays. She creates handmade books, works in mixed media, watercolor, and does letterpress. She lives with her husband and two cats in California.


2 responses to “March 2 – Scarcity and Abundance

  1. I love the limoncello recipe, and your point about how we stop valuing something because it is abundant is a great one, Martha! When I had a Meyer lemon (dwarf, indoors in winter, outdoors in summer), I made lemon-ginger cheesecakes (take any plain cheesecake recipe and add lemon peel to the crust, lemon juice to the filling, and chopped candied ginger to the topping) and lemon curd (recipes online), as well as freezing lemon juice and sugar as a concentrate for lemonade.

  2. Thank you, Susan, for both your comments and your ideas for using Meyer lemons!

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