This makes the third year that I’ve received a box full of lemons for Christmas. The first year a small box arrived in the mail, maybe a dozen lemons and a little red tree ornament. I was mildly confused. The giving of fruit used to be common for the winter holidays. It could be hard to come by and was thought of as a treat, so stockings with an apple and an orange were nice gifts. Fruit baskets and gift boxes from Harry and David, while occasionally thought of as thoughtful or lovely, more commonly are now given when you don’t know what to get a person, or maybe aren’t willing to spend top dollar. (Oh how far we’ve come as we scramble to get the latest and greatest electronic and our children’s wish lists consist of nothing less that $80….but I digress…)
My family never really partook in this particular tradition much, and while I’d heard of gifting pears, gifting lemons seemed a little odd. However, that particular year I had gotten a magazine that had specialized in lemon recipes for its spring edition, so I pulled it out and got to work. Lemon bars, lemon pound cake, citrus butter cookies, and a shrimp stir fry all made the cut that year. As I was baking I noticed that these weren’t anything like the lemons I was used to at the store. These were round and plump with smooth skin. They were so juicy even one slice of the knife spilled juice all over the cutting board. They weren’t sour and bitter, but tangy and mildly sweet. Ever the grateful receiver, I took pictures of all the things I made, sending them along to my aunt and uncle so they would know that I appreciated and made good use of their gift. It was then that I learned these were Meyer lemons, grown on the tree that came with their house. Apparently the tree produces so many lemons, it’s pretty impossible to keep up. I was immediately asked for all the lemon recipes I’d been using so that they could use more of their harvest and waste less.
The following year the same size box arrived, and this time I was excited as I noticed the little Corpus Christi address on the sender label. As I brought it in from off the porch, it seemed heavier. I opened it to find not a single piece of wrapping paper like the year before, but the box instead stuffed with nothing but the yellow fruits. I eagerly made TWO batches of the tangy lemon bars, along with a lemon chess pie, and various other tasty treats, but soon realized there was no way I could use them all before they went bad. I called my Mom, she called her neighbors, my Fort Worth aunt was thrilled to take a couple. I gave away a solid bakers dozen and yet I still had a handful that spoiled, so when my box arrived this year I didn’t stick to my bakery items, I searched for new every day recipes. Salad dressings, fish marinades, infused water, all the things.
While I’ve used many more than in the previous two years, I was still left with half a dozen that I knew I’d never be able to use fast enough. So I decided to freeze the juice! Here’s how I’ll be able to not waste a single tasty lemon and use their juice over the spring: