Leftover lemon heart vinegar
I started obsessing about food waste when my kids were little and I was determined to give them as much organic produce as possible. Not everyone’s priority or privilege. I got by on spending around £60 a week on food and honestly, I was proud that I did manage. Family or friends would raise their eyebrows and roll their eyes when I talked about my veg box, but I knew I was giving us good food. I learned to ignore the eye rolls. Using every scrap of a leftover lemon, half a sausage or pot of sour yoghurt made sure we could eat home-cooked food and I’m grateful that I learned to cook at home and school.
Lemons are so normal in our fridges but travel from Spain, Italy, Israel and, TBH, who knows where, just so we can put a little wedge in our gin & tonic or have a sweet and sour pancake. Leftover lemons deserve more than going hard inside your fridge door – let’s use every last scrap.
I came across this recipe in the James Beard Waste Not Cookbook. I have a growing collection of food waste books which makes me happy. Some focus on the scraps and others on how to cook one meal and then use those leftovers. For me it’s a mixture of both.
This ‘recipe’ is great and so thrifty. A 50p bottle of white vinegar. Lemon rinds. That’s it. You likely will use about 10 pence worth of vinegar in this recipe. You can use your leftover lemon vinegar in dressings, marinades or even mixed with sugar syrup and lightly poured over ice cream (especially good for those of us who don’t have the sweetest tooth).
The eco-cleaners out there know that distilled white vinegar is *the* hot cleaning product. I use mine in place of laundry detergent and for cleaning my bathroom (along with washing up liquid and bicarbonate of soda). Eco often means cheap because a spangly new product isn’t necessarily going to do a better job than some cheap bicarb (I say this as a person whose mum bought her a ££dress££ on Sunday and I enjoyed every second). 50p well spent, no?
Using every last scrap of your food saves you money which sometimes means you can buy that nice dress (over time), or, for me, means I can buy the organic butter or lemons. Every purchase we make is a choice, one way or another. Every leftover we make the most of helps the planet one little choice at a time.
Candied leftover lemon peel
- at least 2 leftover lemons (or lemons you'll use for something else)
- 200 grams caster sugar
- Sharp small knife or speed peeler
- Cooling rack
- Greaseproof paper
- Storage jar or box
- If using whole lemons: use a speed peeler or a small sharp knife peel the rind off and place the lemons in the fridge for another dish
- If using lemons you've squeezed for something, it'll be a little harder but totally fine - you'll just need to take a little more time
- Place the peels in a medium sized saucepan and pour in cold water until the pan is nearly full. Put on to boil & boil for 2 minutes then drain and repeat twice. This is how you'll get rid of the bitterness and make the peels tender
- After the third boil and sieve, leave the hot peels until they are cool to the touch.
- Mix 150g of sugar and 175 ml water in the saucepan
- Slowly bring to the boil and stir occasionally to dissolve the sugar
- When the sugar is dissolved add the peels and turn the heat to medium
- Simmer until the peels become translucent - anything between 60 and 90 minutes
- Don't stir the peels! Every 15 minutes you can gently push the peels under the surface
- Check the peels to make sure that they are simmering. You might need to turn the heat up and down to keep an even simmer
- When the peels are translucent, get your cooling rack and place some baking paper underneath to catch the drips
- Using tongs or a slotted spoon, gently place the peels on the cooling rack to dry - not all bunched up, in separate pieces. Let the syrup drip off the peels back into the saucepan before placing on the rack
The next day
- When the peels are dry, add 25grams of sugar to a clean bowl and toss the peels to coat. Use more if the peels aren't fully covered
- Take your airtight container and put a thin layer of sugar at the bottom and add some peels, trying to keep them from touching
- The peels will keep for up to 2 months in the pot
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