It’s been a pretty tough year. We went from winter to hot summer with barely a notice of spring in Chicagoland, all the while sheltering in place. But to use a very worn saying, “When life gives you lemons…” You know the rest.
Prior to the lockdown, I visited friends in Florida. Upon arrival I noticed a very large bowl of lemons on the kitchen counter. When I remarked on it, my host pulled me to the refrigerator and opened the crisper drawer.
A recent storm brought down some trees in the back garden and suddenly they were inundated with lemons on the ground. “Knock yourself out. Use ‘em all!” Well, goodness knows I recognize a challenge when presented with one.
I headed to the cabinet, pulled out the heavy-duty stand mixer, the sugar canister and a cutting board and went to work. Because I have the too-many-lemons hack that everyone should know about.
Whether you are staring at a heap of lemons, or want to make lemonade for a crowd, this hack will save you much time and elbow grease. Freeze it and you’ll always be ready for a recipe that calls for lemon and a touch of sugar.
Simply wash the lemons (zest them if you want to use it later) then chop roughly into about 8 pieces and drop into your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add 1 Tablespoon sugar per lemon and turn the mixer to lowest setting for 3 – 4 minutes. Depending on your mixer model, you probably will want to do no more than 4 or 5 lemons at a time. Secure the tilting head and drape with a towel to keep things from getting out of hand!
Strain through a fine sieve, pressing rinds with the back of a spoon.
Use the resulting juice now or measure and freeze in ice cube trays or small containers for later.
You can absolutely do this without the sugar, but the granules create some friction to help extract every bit of juice and pulp, so I use it and adjust the recipe accordingly. Use the juice in any recipe - the inclusion of the peels here will add the pungent flavor from the oil in the skins and make this very “lemon-y”; or zest first and freeze the zest for use later.
In general, one lemon equals 2 Tablespoons juice and 1 Tablespoon zest. So if a recipe calls for the juice of two lemons, just use 4 Tablespoons of the extracted mixture. If you measure the amount you put into ice cube trays (ie. 2 Tablespoons per cube), it makes it very easy to thaw the amount you need for a recipe. And on the next steamy day, drop a few of those frozen cubes into your glass of iced tea for a refreshing Arnie Palmer.
After juicing most of that crisper full of lemons, I immediately thought of my favorite summery recipe and made this Lemon Mousse for my hosts. This is not only a refreshing summer dessert, it always gives me a flash-back memory.
I was once the executive chef for a large, very busy catering company in Chicago, whose owner was infamous for taking on last-minute parties, often as not forgetting to warn the kitchen until the day of the event. I’d be knee deep in prep when I found out I needed to send out an additional big party in just a few hours. I could raid the pantry for on-hand ingredients, but in a too-small kitchen we simply did not have the space nor woman-power to make pastries.
So I made a call. Many of you will recall Ina’s Kitchen, a popular restaurant in Chicago for many years. Before she owned that restaurant, Ina Pinkney ran The Dessert Kitchen, which supplied desserts to restaurants, coffee shops – and to at least one crazed caterer. When those surprise bookings came up, I’d reach for the phone. It happened so often that, as soon as she heard my frantic voice, she calmly would say “How many people?” and when I drove past her back door, she would put enough of this mousse into my van to cover the party. I just needed to pack a bit of fresh fruit or a few mint leaves for garnish and the event would end happily.
Those panic-filled days are long gone, but when the world hands you lemons, you too might consider making a Frozen Lemon Mousse.
Please be mindful that this recipe, adapted from Ina’s original version, uses uncooked eggs. You should search out pasteurized eggs to use in it.
Frozen Lemon Mousse
Adapted from Ina Pinkney’s original recipe for The Dessert Kitchen
Scroll down for a printable version of this recipe
Makes 2 quarts
4 egg yolks (see note, below)
1/2 cup extracted, slightly sweetened lemon juice (see above)
pinch of salt
4 egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
2 cups whipping cream
1. Combine yolks, extracted juice and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer and mix on medium speed until the mixture thickens and lightens, about 2 minutes.
2. In a clean bowl, with clean beaters, beat the egg whites until foamy.
3. Add the cream of tartar and continue beating until the whites are opaque.
4. Add the sugar gradually until incorporated and continue beating until firm and glossy.
5. Whip the cream until it holds its shape.
6. Gently fold the lemon mixture into the egg white mixture until combined.
7. Fold the whipped cream into the egg white/lemon mixture gently but thoroughly.
8. Spoon into a serving bowl, individual dishes or freezer containers. Cover tightly and freeze for at least 3 hours or up to 1 week. Allow to thaw 15-20 minutes before serving.
9. Allow to thaw 15-20 minutes before serving.
Note: Fresh eggs have a very small possibility of carrying salmonella, which could be of concern to anyone with compromised health. We recommend you use pasteurized eggs for this recipe.
Search our blog posts for other recipes with which to use the supply of lemon juice you have made. These are especially good for summer:
- Transform Lemon Curd to Elegant Mousse
- Lemon Meringue Pie: The Perfect Summer Dessert
- Lemon Meringue Cupcakes are Full of Surprises
If you are ready to get back into the kitchen with us, check out our virtual cooking classes or our limited-attendance in-person classes now happening at the Lincoln Square location. All of our classes, virtual or in-person, can be found on our class calendar. We'll work with lemon in our upcoming virtual Date Night class as you learn how to make Chicken Piccata with Lemon-Caper Sauce on Friday, August 21 at 6pm CST.