Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Lemon - The unexpected Herb of the Week

Wednesday is a day to focus on a single herb.  Sometimes it is details to grow and recipes to use and other times it is growing or using tips.


This week it is ways to use lemon peels.  Although one could grow a lemon indoors in Illinois, I have never had the windows or space to bring a lemon tree indoors for winter, so I have always gotten my lemons at the market.  But even though I do not grow them I do process the peel and use them in my teas and bath products.  Most of the time I grate the lemons and toast the grated peel in the oven to make sure it is completely dry.  Somedays I get a great peel that holds its yellow color, most of the time it turns a tan color, so if you see little brown flecks in your Lemon Cream Scone Mix, don't panic it is just my dried lemon peel.

Here is a baker's dozen of tips for using fresh and dried lemon peel around your home. Lemon is technically a fruit, but we use it like a spice in recipes, so I tend to treat it like an herbs.

Lemon juice is 5 to 6 % citric acid with a low pH of 2 to 3.  This low acid pH makes lemon juice perfect for breaking down rust and mineral stains.


  1. A juiced lemon can be used to polish copper pots.  Just rub the interior pulp on the pot until the copper shine returns.  Then rinse with cold water.  If you need some abrasion, sprinkle the lemon with baking soda.
  2. You can use these handy juiced lemon halves to wipe up splattered stove tops and messy granite, formica or corian counter tops.  Sprinkle some salt on a lemon half and rub the greasy areas.  Then wipe with a towel.
  3.   Remove mineral deposits built up in your tea kettle.  Fill the kettle with water, add a couple thin slices of lemon peel and bring to a boil.  turn off the heat and let sit for an hour, drain and rinse well.
  4. Clean the microwave.  Place a glass bowl filled with water and lemon rind strips in the microwave.  Cook on high for 5 minutes.  the steam will condense on the walls and make it easier to remove cooked on messes.
  5. Keep bugs out of your kitchen by chopping rind into small pieces and place along windowsills, door ways, under sinks and near openings and cracks. 
  6. Lemon's antibacterial properties make it a good choice for freshening cutting boards.  After cleaning a cutting board, especially wooden ones, you rub the surface with half a lemon and let rest for a few minutes, then rinse.
  7. Add lemon peel strips (with all pulp and pith removed) to your brown sugar to keep it from becoming brick sugar.

  8. Use a vegetable peeler to cut lemon peel into long strips and use them ti garnish cocktails or sparkling water.
  9. Craft your own lemon extract powder.Take peel (making sure to remove all the white bitter pith.) Lay the peel skin side down on a plate and allow to air dry 3 to 4 days.  then run in a blender (or spice grinder) to powder.  Use this powder in place of extract or zest in recipes
  10. Use dried lemon powder mixed with sugar to create lemon sugar.  You can also layer lemon peel strips with sugar to craft a lemon sugar.
  11. Blend the dried lemon powder with black pepper to make your own salt-free lemon pepper.
  12. Folk remedies suggest using lemon peel to help lighten age spots and freckles.  Make a paste of baking soda and fresh lemon peel and a bit of water and place on the spots.  Leave for an hour, then rinse off.
  13. Mix a cup of sugar with grated lemon peel and enough olive oil to make a scrub.  Wet your body in the shower and turn off the water and massage sugar mix all over your skin, rinse and enjoy the softness.

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