4 Tasty Solutions To Use Up All Those Lemons

I use lemons regularly and most days have at least one or two in the refrigerator for cooking or to add flavor to ice water, but there are times I need to use them quickly before they go bad. Here’s a recipe sheet full of ideas, many preserving their flavor so they can be used over time. These have been published years ago on their own pages and have gotten lost in the shuffle so I’ve moved them here for better organization.

Quick & Easy Granita:

Try Different Granita Flavors
Try Different Granita Flavors Such As Lime, Strawberry, Orange, Mint, Etc.

(First Published June 24, 2010) Granita is a flavored, slushy icy treat that’s perfect for hot summer days and although it does contain sugar, it’s a little easier on the calories and fat since it avoids the heavy creams found in many frozen desserts. This is the simplest recipe I’ve come across (this is an alcohol-free version), feel free to try other flavors…

(Yield: 4 Servings)

2 cups water
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 cup lemon juice (fresh)
Grated zest of 1 large lemon
Sprigs of fresh mint (garnish)


  • Bring water and sugar to a boil and stir just until sugar dissolves. Boil for 5 minutes.
  • Add lemon juice and zest then return to boil, boil for 3 minutes.
  • Remove from heat, cool completely.
  • Chill an 8-inch square metal baking pan in the freezer.
  • Pour the syrup into the pan and freeze until mixture is frozen around the edges (approximately 2 hours).
  • Scrape the frozen edges into the mixture and return to freezer for about another 2 hours (until there is a slushy ice).
  • Scrape granita into chilled bowls and garnish with a sprig of mint, serve immediately.

Source: Skinny Italian by Teresa Giudice

Homemade Lemonade:

Ice Cold
This Ice Cold Beverage Can't Be Beat On Hot Summer Days

(First published May 22, 2008)

Part One:

1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup boiling water

Part Two:

5 cups water
1 1/2 cups fresh lemon juice (8 to 9 large lemons)
1 TBS grated rind


  • Stir the sugar into the 1/2 cup of boiling water, dissolve.
  • Add the rest of the ingredients and refrigerate.
  • Serve over ice.

Preserved Lemons:

Rinse Off Wedges & Discard Seeds
Rinse Off Wedges & Discard Seeds Before Using

(First published March 2, 2007) When using these in dishes, rinse off the wedges and discard seeds. The rinds are added to dishes while the pulps can be mixed into sauces.

Recipe #1

2 Lemons
1/2 cup lemon juice (freshly squeezed)
1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/3 cup Kosher Salt or Coarse Sea Salt

Optional Additions:

Peppercorns, Dill, Allspice, Cloves


  • Scrub lemons clean then dry thoroughly. Cut each into 8 wedges. Toss wedges in the juice and salt. Place the wedges in a sterilized jar or glass dish, seal with a non-metal lid (you can place a layer of plastic wrap between the lid and the jar if all you have is a metal lid).
  • Let sit at room temperature for 7 days, shaking the container every day to evenly distribute the juice and salt (or turn jar upside down one day, then right side up the next).
  • After 7 days, add the olive oil and refrigerate. The longer they’re stored, the better they are–but you can start using them after 7 days.

Source: From cookbook author Patricia Wells.


Another method for preserving them:

  • Scrub lemons clean, then dry thoroughly. Slice 6 to 8 wedges but keep the wedges attached at the bottom. Pull open wedges (be careful to keep them intact), generously sprinkle and pack salt between each piece.
  • Pour 2 TBS of salt in the bottom of a sterilized jar. Fit lemons in until you can’t squeeze another one in–sprinkling salt between each layer. Also squeeze them as you’re pushing them down into the jar so that the juice is flowing out. Pour freshly squeezed juice in the jar until they are fully covered, add another 2 TBS of salt. Seal jar then let sit at room temperature. Shake and turn jar over each day to distribute salt and juice.
  • After 7 days refrigerate and continue shaking and turning jar over each day. You can use in recipes after 4 weeks or when rinds are soft.

Uses for Citrus Peels

It's Easy To Make Candied Peels
It's Easy To Make Candied Peels

(First published May 2, 2007) Instead of tossing out the peels from citrus fruits:

  • Wash them, dry off the water and then store in their own freezer bags (ie. baggy for orange peels, another for lemon peels, etc.) and freeze. When you have a recipe that calls for lemon zest, just take a peel out of the freezer, let it thaw and then use in the recipe.
  • Let the peels dry out and use them in simmering pot recipes.
  • Use the peels for flavored sugars, great for baking toppings and flavoring teas!
  • Save them to toss in the fireplace for a fragrant smell.

Another use for citrus peels is to candy them and use them in baking (things like fruitcakes, muffins and fancy breads) or cover them in chocolate and see what happens ;).

Candied Peel:


Peels from 6 lemons
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/4 cups white sugar
3 TBS corn syrup (light)
Sugar for coating (optional)


  • Drop the peels in a boiling pot of water, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Drain all the water and repeat process with fresh water. Drain the water again and repeat, but this time let the peels simmer for about 20 – 25 minutes (peels should be tender). Remove from heat and drain the water.
  • Once the peels are cool enough to handle, slice into small strips (about 1/4″ to 1/2″ wide).
  • Bring to a boil the water, sugar and corn syrup. Let it boil for 3 minutes, then add the peel strips. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until they start becoming translucent. Remove the lid and cook the syrup down until there is only a couple spoonfuls of syrup left. Watch carefully at this point so nothing gets burned.
  • Remove them carefully and lay singly on a wire rack to cool. Dry overnight.


  • While still warm, you can sugar coat the peels in a bowl of granular sugar (or coat by shaking in a plastic bag with sugar) and then allow to dry singly on a wire rack.

Secret for Success: Remove as much of the white pith as possible before boiling the peels, it can add a bitterness if left on. Also make sure to cook them long enough–you want them to be very tender (use a sharp knife to determine tenderness).

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    • Jessa

    [admin edit: comment applies to Lemon Sugar Recipes]

    I love lemon sugar in my tea, I highly recommend trying this! Never thought of using orange sugar, I’m going to try that next.

    • Christense Andersen

    [admin edit: comment applies to Lemon Extract Recipes]

    Could I use another kind of alcohol, like sake? I live in China and vodka is really expensive.

    • TipNut

    [admin edit: comment applies to Lemon Extract Recipes]

    Christense I’m sure you could but I’m not sure what the results would be like.

    • Brenda Nolen

    [admin edit: comment applies to Lemon Extract Recipes]


    With Sake you would end up with flavored Sake instead of a true extract (Sake is typically between 12 to 20% alcohol by volume).

    The reasons most people use vodka are:

    1. The alcohol content (between 35 and 50% alcohol by volume), and
    2. The flavor.

    Most good vodkas do not add their own flavor to the extract. I have a friend who uses Everclear (95% alcohol by volume)!

    Here’s a website that discusses Chiew and soju:


    • Mona W

    [admin edit: comment applies to Lemon Extract Recipes]

    I purchased Lemon oil from a kitchen shop and want to make lemon extract from that, with vodka. Pure lemon extract consists of alcohol and lemon oil. But, How much lemon oil to how much vodka?

      • Erika

      [admin edit: comment applies to Lemon Extract Recipes]

      Hi there. I had the same question, and found this: one part oil of lemon is roughly equivalent to four parts extract, but this may vary according to the products used. To be safe, begin by substituting 1/8 teaspoon of oil per teaspoon of extract, then add more drops of oil until you’re satisfied with the flavor. So I suppose I would start by putting the lemon oil in a jar and then adding 4 measures of vodka, then more if it seems too strong.

      Here’s the website that I took it from: http://sonic.net/~alden/Extracts.html

      Good luck!

    • marie

    [admin edit: comment applies to Lemon Extract Recipes]

    hi, does this extract keep well unrefrigerated? what is its shelf life? thanks.

      • John

      [admin edit: comment applies to Lemon Extract Recipes]

      Recipe 2 is vodka with a bit of lemon in it so it would keep for a very long time. I would feel comfortable using it even after a few years. Keep in mind that many types of alcohol are stored for years, and in some cases decades, with no ill effects. It’s always best to use your own judgement on a case by case basis though.

    • Luvnw

    [admin edit: comment applies to Lemon Sugar Recipes]

    Never thought of using citrus, only knew about using vanilla beans. Thanks so much for posting.

    • Amanda

    [admin edit: comment applies to candied peel recipe and ideas]

    Very tasty!!! Make sure to simmer the peels a long time until they are translucent or they won’t turn out.

    • David Scruggs

    [admin edit: comment applies to Lemon Extract Recipes]

    Most of the recipes I’ve found for lemon extracts call for peeling the lemon with a vegetable peeler then chopping up the peel. Can I just use a fine grater to accomplish this or would the peel be too fine? I have some steeping at the moment that is 1/2 cup vodka and the peel from one lemon that’s finely grated and it smells good after 5 days but the flavor just isn’t as strong as store bought. I’m just wondering if the peel was grated too finely to do the job properly. I didn’t use a microplane but it’s pretty fine, could that be the problem? Or maybe I just need to add more lemon for my taste?

    • Millie

    [admin edit: comment applies to candied peel recipe and ideas]

    I have just developed a strong attachment to orange peel. I have an orange tree and thus, organic oranges. I learned about the health benefits of the zest of oranges and I will NEVER throw away another peel. I make fruit salad with the oranges AFTER using a peeler on them. I dry the peels in my dehydrator and then powder them in my blender. I then jar this stuff up. It tastes nothing like the sorry peel or zest you get from the grocery store and it actually is known to lower cholesterol better than statin drugs. I’ve been adding it daily to my drinks, foods, salads, dressings, etc. The vitamin C is greatest in the peel and it smells so wonderful and is so tasty. A teaspoon or my orange zest in oatmeal cookies makes them rock! My cholesterol has dropped already and now I see orange peel as a medicine too!

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