If you have the good fortune to own a well-established lemon tree - treasure it. No matter what the weather will throw at you, a lemon tree will remain a bright spark in your garden, from the deep green and shiny texture of the tree itself to the continuous, and seemingly endless, supply of bright yellow fruit. Heave any spare water under it, pile as much compost as possible around it, give it a prune once a year to tidy it up and remove any bad bits, and you will be rewarded with a versatile fruit for every month of the year. From the winter lemon and honey chill-chasers to the long, cool, iced lemonades for the hay-makers, lemons are a kitchen essential.

The neighbours around Middelmost have an open invitation to pick lemons whenever they want some. A lemon tree needs to be picked on a regular basis to keep it fruiting strongly. The neighbours have never abused this open invitation but, if anyone tried to strip the tree, they would need a truck!

So, what to do with all of the lemons? Apart from the usuals - hot drinks, cold drinks, squeezed over steak, added to fish, etc., etc., I find the following recipes excellent for helping the Middelmost tree stay healthy and productive during the summer months. And if all fails and the buckets of lemons are still mounting up - feed them to the pigs. I slice them for the piglets and Mrs. Pig likes them cut into halves. But Mr. Pig is disgusting - he likes them whole. There is nothing quite so spine-chilling as watching Mr. Pig select a lemon, raise his head and slowly crush it between his back teeth spilling the juice down his throat and out the sides of his mouth. (Ooo! Pucker! Pucker!)

Lemon Semifreddo - an ideal ice cream for a late dessert on a hot night.

  • 4 egg yolks
  • 2 drops of vanilla essence
  • ¾ (175g) caster sugar (or put some ordinary sugar through the blender)
  • 4 Tablespoons (60ml) of milk
  • finely grated zest of one lemon
  • 5 Tablespoons (80ml) of lemon juice
  • 2 cups (500ml) of cream
  • 1 Tablespoon of Glace peel, chopped (not essential if it isn't in your cupboard)

Beat the egg yolks until they are thick and lemon coloured. Put the sugar, milk, and lemon zest into a heavy-based saucepan and heat gently until the sugar is dissolved. When it reaches scalding point, add the lemon juice and pour it onto the yolks, whisking it constantly as you do so. Beat the mixture well and allow it to cool. When it is cool, whip the cream and fold it into this mixture with a large spoon or spatula. Pour half of the mixture into a freezable container, sprinkle the chopped glace peel over it, and then pour the rest carefully on top. Pop it into the freezer until it is firm enough to scoop out and do with as you desire.

Lemon Sorbet - perfect as an afternoon treat or to separate rich dishes at a formal dinner.

  • 2 ½ Cups of sugar
  • 3 cups of water
  • 2 cups of lemon juice
  • The zest of 2-3 lemons

Put the sugar, zest, and water in a saucepan and heat gently until the sugar is dissolved. Bring it quickly to a boil and boil for 30 seconds. Cool and add the lemon juice. Pour it into a freezable container and stir from time to time as you set it in the freezer. (Or put it into an ice cream maker if you have one.)

Alternate Sorbet Recipe

  • ½ Cup of sugar
  • ½ Cup of water
  • The zest of 1-2 lemons
  • 1 Cup of lemon juice
  • 200ml of water
  • 2 egg whites, stiffly beaten

Put the sugar, zest, and ½ cup of water into a saucepan and heat gently until the sugar is dissolved. Bring it to a boil and boil for 1 minute. Allow to cool and then add the lemon juice and the 200mls of water. Fold in the stiffly beaten egg whites, pour into a freezable container, and stir regularly while you freeze it. (Or use an ice cream maker.)

Lemon Tabouleh Salad - the ideal answer to a tired, over-heated, or jaded palate.

  • 1 box of couscous
  • 1 telegraph cucumber and 4 large tomatoes (chopped very fine)
  • 6-8 lemons (squeeze the juice from 2-3, take the peel off the rest and chop them into very small pieces)
  • 3 Tablespoons of Olive Oil
  • A good handful of chopped mint
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Prepare the couscous, as per the instructions on the box, and when it is cool combine all of the other ingredients and put it in the fridge for a couple of hours before eating. You can halve this recipe if you like but I find the whole recipe gets eaten, it is so refreshing you keep picking at it!

Enjoy! Althea from Middelmost.