I'm practically up to my eyeballs in lemons and loving it
Last week I stood and looked at boughs heavily laden with fruit full of liquid sunshine. This year our eleven year old Eureka lemon decided to produce a crop above and beyond it's "semi dwarf" status. Sacrificing thick green leathery leaves, it has poured all its energy into the fruit. The Eureka is an ever-producing variety that year-round has blossoms, developing fruit, and ripe fruit on it all at the same time. But never have we been blessed with such a bountiful harvest all at once like this year.
I stood looking at a branch ready to break after the added weight of waterdrops from a spring rain shower were almost too much for it to bear. I knew I couldn't put off the harvest any longer.
So despite dealing with severe bouts of spring-allergy-induced vertigo, I got out under the tree with my garden cart, green-waste can, and two sizes of pruning shears. The branch that was precariously close to snapping and jeopardizing the whole tree was cut off before it could do damage to the form of the tree.
I removed the lemons from the cut branch... but there were still so many lemons left on the tree.
I filled my harvest satchel... and there were still so many lemons left on the tree.
I filled a laundry basket... and there were still so many lemons left on the tree.
I filled my garden cart... and there are still so many lemons left on the tree.
Although I had dosed myself with plenty of sinus medication to reduce the swelling and fluid in my inner ears and keep the head-spinning at bay, it was still tricky having to look up over my head to pick each lemon. Silent prayer, wishful thinking and sheer stubborn tenacity kept me from pitching forward and landing in the pond or on the ground. After I had the cart fairly full, I decided I had gathered enough and the rest of the fruit on the tree could wait until another time when someone taller and less equilibrium-challenged could harvest them.
After a couple of days, I tackled the next task of processing the lemons. We chose to juice them all into 8-ounce freezable stacking containers Hubby found at a local restaurant supply store. My count for containers of fresh squeezed juice is now over thirty. They sit in neat columns of golden yellow in our large supplemental freezer and will be thawed as needed for various uses in cooking, baking or drinking. I still have almost a full 5-gallon buckets worth of lemons to go before the juicing is done.
Hubby and I have read together many times in Frances Mayes' books Under the Tuscan Sun and The Tuscan Sun Cookbook about the Italian limonaia (literally translated "lemon house") where this important staple is stored in various forms to be used to feed the family throughout the year when the lemons aren't in season. It's the reason I planted the lemon tree in the first place. I feel like we finally have our dreamed of limonaia (of sorts) in our freezer.
It's wonderful to imagine all the things that the juice will become in the artful hands of Hubby (my personal chef-in-residence). Some will go into savory entrees such as pan sautéed lemon chicken. Some will probably be combined to make homemade lemon-infused extra virgin olive oil. I will most surely want to use some to make my favorite dessert, Cheery Cherry Cheese Pie. And I am a lover of lemonade so most assuredly a lot of the juice will be used to make large pitchers of ice cold lemonade on hot summer days.
Now my mouth is watering.
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