Posted by Robin in Lemon Flavoured Wreckage
08 June 2009
4-6 lemons, unwaxed and organic
1 c sugar
Wash the lemons. Then cut the zest off approximately two of them–depending on how big they are and what shape their skins are in. But if you can’t get at least unwaxed lemons and preferably organic, I wouldn’t bother with the zest: you really don’t want to eat fungicidal wax and merely washing ‘em doesn’t really get the nasty stuff off.** If you can’t get organic and are going zest-free, add about a quarter teaspoon of lemon essence to your sugar syrup.
If you are cutting your zest off . . . after dutifully using a grater for several years*** I discovered by accident that a small sharp knife is actually better because you can follow the curve of your lemon: I find it’s almost impossible not to get some of the bitter white pith mixed up in the works with a grater. And you don’t have to do it beautifully here: you’re going to strain it later anyway.
Dump the sugar, the zest, and 2c water in a saucepan and heat slowly till the sugar dissolves. Keep the heat low enough so you don’t have to stand there stirring constantly to prevent the sugar burning. Stir occasionally. Simmer a while, say 5-15 minutes. Take it off the heat, let cool, and put it in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight. Leave your lemons out to stay at room temperature. There’s nothing crankier than a cold lemon, and you want the juice.
After your lemon syrup has been seething long enough, squeeze your nice warm cooperative lemons. You want ½ c juice. Strain the lemon juice. Strain the syrup to get rid of the zest and add the lemon juice. Stir a few times. Start your ice-cream machine and do whatever you have to do to make ice cream.
I rebelled long ago at the idea that you’re supposed to puree all the fruit you put in ice cream. You do have to decide how you feel about the texture of frozen fruit and how big you want your chunks to be. I chop my strawberries relatively small and lavish more sugar over them and let them seethe while the ice cream gets made. Then at more or less the last minute of the ice-cream-making process you can dump your strawberries and their by-now-heavily-strawberry-infused sugar syrup in the ice cream maker and let it run just enough longer to mix the strawberries in. This may vary with your ice-cream maker but if you stand over it and turn it off at the perfect moment you can get this excellent marbled effect (if your reflexes are good enough and you like living dangerously, you can assist with a spoon while the machine is still running), and the strawberry ribbons will be slightly crunchy with undissolved sugar. I like this result, but you may not. Strawberries merely politely scattered over your lemon ice lying in its dish is also good, but unless your strawberries are at the absolute perfect pinnacle of ripeness I recommend you sugar them one way or another, or the collision of acids with the intense lemonyness of the ice will not be agreeable. (You can also make strawberry sauce. I’ll post a recipe some day.)
The lemon ice on its own is also very pleasing, but it is strawberry season.
** I am so glad organic unwaxed lemons exist. When I was first going seriously crunchy granola, which is about a quarter-century ago now, unwaxed organic lemons did not exist, unless you had your own heated conservatory and grew them. I had a lovely little zester gadget that I THREW AWAY because I assumed I’d never use it again. . . .
*** Having THROWN MY ZESTER OUT^
^ I THREW MY ZESTER OUT sounds like a particularly lurid tell-all memoir. But then I have a low mind.