Find sunny lemony flavors in the middle of winter

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Everywhere I drive at this time of year, the sun seems to shine in my eyes. From my limited knowledge of planetary physics, I know that can’t be true, but I’m still flapping the visor – up and down, back and forth. I don’t hate winter, but it has its inconveniences.

Fortunately, we have sunny citrus as an antidote.

Miraculously in season just when we need them, brightly flavored lemons, vibrant oranges and brilliant red grapefruits have enough vigor to overcome winter’s challenges. The shops are full of colorful fruits.

At this time of year, stores are full of colorful citrus fruits.

Frank Whitman / For Hearst Connecticut Media Group

We are lucky to have two friends in South Carolina with Meyer lemon trees in the backyard. Meyers, a cross between traditional lemons and oranges, are a little less tart than everyday lemons, but still bursting with tropical flavor.


Earlier this month we learned that a box of fruit was on the way. Even before it arrives, we’ve mapped out ways to use lemons: lemon bars for dessert, lemon curd to spread on scones at tea time, and cocktails anytime. after 5 p.m. Lemons can brighten a day in many ways.

“They’re not pretty,” read the note in the box, “but they taste good.” Their sparkling flavor seemed to make daylight last longer.

Right away, to celebrate our good luck, the first lemon was squeezed and mixed into a classic toddy with bourbon, clove, brown sugar and honey – warming and delicious. More juice was mixed in an old-fashioned sidecar – shaken up with triple sec and brandy – and served in an elegant long-stemmed glass.

There are only a few weeks of peak flavor and juiciness once the fruit is picked. Without the protective wax coating of commercial fruits, backyard Meyers will dry out. It is urgent to use them.

Lemon Curd is a way to preserve the freshly picked flavor. It’s easy to do and the results are stunning. I have found thespruceeats.com to be a reliable source of well tested and tasty recipes. I followed their method for Meyer Lemon Curd.

It only takes five ingredients and a simple method to make lemon curd from scratch.

It only takes five ingredients and a simple method to make lemon curd from scratch.

Frank Whitman / For Hearst Connecticut Media Group

With only five ingredients and a simple method, making the curd still requires some experience. My first batch, although tasty, separated on cooling, splitting into lemon butter and egg lemon juice. Afraid of scrambling the eggs, I hadn’t cooked it long enough. (Later I reheated it and managed to cook it more.)

Luckily we had a generous supply of fruit. A second attempt yielded two jars of delicious bright yellow curd with a luxurious texture to spread on scones, spread on pancakes, fill tarts or slip a spoonful into the afternoon.

If you don’t have leftover lemons or don’t want to make curd from scratch, you can buy curd from the store. I have a few jars on hand in case of a curd emergency. Look for jars where eggs are the second ingredient and the list of other things is short. Dickenson’s brand is good, though it doesn’t quite get the crisp, crisp lemony flavor of fresh.

With the curd in hand, my attention turned to the scones. The recipe from SallysBakingAddiction.com was a great winter afternoon project to do with my granddaughter, Moira.

Granddaughter Moira Logan cut 16 good sized scones from our batch.

Granddaughter Moira Logan cut 16 good sized scones from our batch.

Frank Whitman / For Hearst Connecticut Media Group

Freshly baked scones were delicious with a dollop of our homemade lemon curd.

Freshly baked scones were delicious with a dollop of our homemade lemon curd.

Frank Whitman / For Hearst Connecticut Media Group

Moira measured, whipped, stirred and shaped the dough. Half was no frills, half laced with dried currants. She cut sixteen good-sized scones. All were brushed with cream and dusted with demerara sugar. I manipulated the oven.

Served hot at tea time with a generous dollop of lemon curd, the freshly baked scones brought a smile to everyone’s face. It was Moira’s first experience with lemon curd. Now she is a fan.

The next day, before Moira came home, we shared pancakes for breakfast. A curd swirl on top was a surprisingly delicious treat. Sweet as syrup and butter with the surprising flavor of lemon, it was a new take on an old standard.

The pancakes with a swirl of Meyer lemon curd on top were a delicious breakfast treat.

The pancakes with a swirl of Meyer lemon curd on top were a delicious breakfast treat.

Frank Whitman / For Hearst Connecticut Media Group

We got all that warm, sunny flavor and fun family time from a can of “not so pretty” lemons. Winter isn’t so annoying after all.

Frank Whitman writes a weekly food column called “No Bread Alone”. He can be contacted at [email protected]

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