LEMON: That refreshing fragrance of spring and summer, that flavor that brightens and complements the most mundane, the simple beauty that speaks of its humble, recognizable form. A bowl full of lemons gracing a table or counter displays a cheery, welcoming sign to any room. Ohh, the sweetness of the sour lemon! Now that’s a dichotomy but one so true.
We all recognize this yellow citrus fruit, and upon first mention of lemon, more-than-likely, one thinks of lemonade (sour but sweet). Ahhh, but not me. As a dessert baker, I automatically think of this flavor as the highlight of my cheesecake, cake, or cookie. It denotes freshness and vitality and invites my taste buds to dance a promenade.
I not only create recipes with the fresh juice or bottled lemon oil but especially love the added texture and flavor of the delicate zest. Most recipes call for a certain measure of lemon zest such as 1 teaspoon or 1 Tablespoon. Most often, I use my best guess as a measuring tool for zest because I zest my lemon right over my mixing bowl and directly into the batter and cannot get an exact measurement. By doing this, all of the lemon oil that springs forth with the zest goes directly into the batter and not on to a piece of parchment paper or counter. Ohhh, it’s the citrus oil that truly adds the flavor!
Now there is a method to my lemon madness when shopping for this little yellow beauty. When I’m focusing on a recipe that requires a greater amount of zest than juice, I buy bigger, coarser textured lemons as there is not usually much juice that can be extracted from this type of lemon. When feeling the rind, it will feel thicker and rougher. Buy one and cut it open. See the depth of thickness of the rind inside the fruit. Lemons that have a smoother, finer texture to their rind will be the better juicing fruits. Often times, these will be smaller fruits that are more rounded in their appearance. Of course, when a lemon is room temperature or even briefly warmed in the microwave, it will yield more juice. A little massaging of the lemon by rolling it on the counter top with the hand before slicing will also help the fruit release more of its juice.
So, there you have it! A tutorial from Miss NiNi on the essence of the characteristic scent and flavor of warm weather—the LEMON. Now go enjoy it!