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REMIX: Lemons (Recipes, sources and stories in The Perfect Pantry)

Lemon zest

Lemons need our help.

For generations, we've named our faulty cars and appliances after them, a metaphor for a bitter experience or a general state of disappointment.

I don't know about you, but I've never met a real-life lemon that caused anything but squeals of joy; the aroma and flavor brighten up even the most uninspired dishes, everything from fish to salads to yogurt cake. In high school, my friends and I rubbed cut lemons on our hair, to add highlights. (It worked. Sort of.) Lemons never let me down.

So, I propose we let lemons off the hook. No more negative connotation, no more Peter, Paul and Mary tunes. From now on, when I end up with a toaster that always burns the toast, or a lawn mower that doesn't mulch, I'm going to call it a cauliflower, because that's what personifies a bitter experience for me.

Baked stuffed shrimp

Here in The Perfect Pantry, I've featured lemons five times, and in dozens of recipes. In fact, the very first recipe on this blog, garlic chicken on skewers, started me on a career as a food writer more than twenty years ago. (You can go back to the beginning and read the story.) Lemon loves to balance the fattiness of proteins, in a move so subtle you don't really even notice how hard it's working, in dishes like these:

Cold curried orzo

Salads, vegetables and pasta dishes kissed by the flavor of lemon are perfect for picnics or potluck:

Lemon yogurt waffles

Lemon and yogurt, especially Greek yogurt, seem to go hand-in-hand in both sweet and savory dishes:

Carrot cake cupcakes with lemon frosting

Desserts made with lemon leave your mouth feeling clean and tingly:

Summer sangria

And, of course, there's summer sangria. Need I say more?

Store whole lemons in a bowl on the kitchen counter for one week, or in the refrigerator for up to three weeks.

Use the search box on the right (up near the top of this page) to find more recipes and fun facts about lemons in The Perfect Pantry.

What do you make with lemons? Have you tried Meyer lemons or other varieties?

Disclosure: The Perfect Pantry earns a few pennies on purchases made through the Amazon.com links in this post. Thank you for supporting this site when you start your shopping here.


My lemon associations are as good as yours and I definitely do not tie them to a bitter experience:) When we were kids, my mom would cut a lemon into wedges, dip it in sugar, and wrap it for us to take skiing (the days before beer and rum-spiked drinks were available on the slopes of the mountains in Serbia:)
My girls love to squeeze fresh lemon juice on their pancakes or crepes and sprinkle a bit of sugar - heaven!
Thanks for assembling so many recipes for easy viewing!
I hope your train-ride back home from Atlanta was as enjoyable as you envisioned. It was wonderful meeting you in person after so many years of reading your blog. On Sunday, I did not make it to the Museum of Contemporary Arts, but to the High Museum (they gave me the wrong directions at the concierge desk:), and I wasn't disappointed! What a gem! Thanks for the inspiration!

Very cute post and awesome roundup of lemon recipes!

Lemon is my chocolate that I love in everything from sweet to savoury! Some amazing recipes here Lydia!

Lemon is so essential in my pantry. I squeeze it on EVERYTHING. I mean everythng from sandwiches to desserts. It's such a bright and cheerful fruit.

My family shares your love of lemons. In an effort to help the cause, here is one of our new favorite lemon recipes. Enjoy!

Lana, lemon and sugar... of course your daughters would love it (who wouldn't?). It was such fun to meet you at BlogHer Food!

Maris, I think there are two or three times this number of recipes that use lemon on the blog. Like onions and garlic, it's hard to cook without it.

Bellini, I love that: "Lemon is my chocolate." Wouldn't that make a great T-shirt?

Nisrine, my favorite thing is to squeeze lemon on fruit salad. No sugar, just lemon.

Karen, thanks for sharing your rosemary lemon cake recipe!

I have the same feelings about cauliflower - and I love lemons. I always grate the zest off before I use the juice in recipes, it's an added bonus.

Making my lemons go farther (limes too) -- I wash the peel before cutting and squeezing, then throw the juiced shell in a pitcher of water. Now that we've had a hot day, more appreciated. I refill the water a few times, though in hot weather I'll have to refrigerate it.
Except for the days that sangria is called for.

Kate, hurray! I knew someone would feel the way I do about cauliflower.

Susan, great way to use every bit of the lemon. It does make water so much more refreshing.

I LOVE lemons and funny enough I did that thing with my hair too in the teen years!
but my broken toaster would be my "okra"
I use my "spent" (juiced) half of lemon to swipe/freshen my counter tops and boards.

Also, love your new picture, even though it's probably not so new anymore! So good to see your face!

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