Monday, February 21, 2011

An Avalanche of Lemons

At one time, large tracts of the greater Phoenix metro area were covered with citrus (mainly lemon) orchards.  The orchards are long gone, but some of the old trees linger in the yards of homes built in the 1960's and 1970's, and the streets in subdivisions like Sun City were deliberately lined with decorative orange trees, the fruit of which is sold to marmalade manufacturers. Residents of the newer portions of town have been planting new citrus trees, too.  The flowers have an overpoweringly sweet aroma in the springtime, and the trees themselves are beautiful when covered with orange or yellow fruit that contrasts with the dark green leaves and trunks painted white to avoid sunburn.

One of the many things I didn't know about citrus before moving here was that it matures in the winter.  Depending upon the species involved, the fruit ripens somewhere between late January and the beginning of April.  This means that we are now smack in the middle of harvest season, and all those tree owners are trying to give away their fruit.

A large healthy citrus tree can produce a truly amazing crop.  Barry and I have one little immature lemon tree in a pot, but many of our friends have large lemon or lime trees and my parents' home has a grapefruit tree, a lemon tree, and two orange trees in the backyard.  This means we are being inundated with free citrus - not a bad thing, given its price in the supermarket, but just how much lemon juice can one couple consume?  We've been able to keep up with the orange and grapefruit donations, but not the lemons.  I've started refusing further lemons myself, but Barry keeps bringing them home; he just can't resist free food.

I've made lemonade.  I've frozen as much lemon juice as I can put into the freezer.  I'm preserving a few lemons in salt for a Moroccan chicken recipe I have.  I'm poaching wild salmon and serving it with lemon sauce.  I'm garnishing everything I can think of with fresh lemon slices.  And still the lemons roll in.  Most of my remaining lemon recipes are for desserts, which I've been trying to avoid.

Please complete this sentence in a totally original way: "When life hands me lemons, I make_______."

“For mad scientists who keep brains in jars, here's a tip: why not add a slice of lemon to each jar, for freshness?” ~Jack Handy

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