How to use up excess lemons

when life gives you lemons

Today’s post is about how to use up excess lemons. In most parts of the world, the era of lemon overload is still a few weeks or months away, but for some crazy reason, my lemon tree went BALLISTIC last month, popping out dozens of footy-shaped fruits overnight. Naturally, they all ripened at the same second and we had to get creative.

So with hands still stinging and wrists aching from juicing the buggers, here is a recipe, plus some other ideas on how to use up excess lemons:

Listen to Oprah

I’ve never made lemonade before, but hot dang, that stuff is incredible! I think my citrus tree is what’s known as a lemonade tree because the fruit is very sweet. The first batch I made ended up being more like cordial and had to be heavily diluted, so the second, third and subsequent batches had dwindling amounts of sugar. I like this recipe because it saves energy: some recipes tell you to add all the liquid then boil to dissolve the sugar.

Lemonade recipe


  • 3/4 cup sugar (I used raw)
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • Loads of lemon zest
  • 4 cups water
  • 2.5 cups lemon juiceĀ  (6-10 lemons)
  • Fresh mint sprigs

Combine sugar and boiling water in a medium saucepan, stir until sugar is dissolved. Add lemon zest, water and lemon juice and stir. Decant into a jug, add mint and allow to cool. Serve chilled with ice. Heaven!

Save them for later

Anyone who knows anything about health knows that a glass of warm water with lemon in the morning gets the bowel moving and promotes excellent health. This year, I prepared for the lemon drought of summer and chopped a heap of lemon slices and chucked them in the freezer. To save space, freeze them on a baking tray (you might want to place them on a reusable baking sheet or this chlorine-free, unbleached baking paper by If You Care) then, once they’re frozen, pop them in a freezer-safe glass container.

My next-door neighbour freezes lemon juice in ice-cube trays for the same effect.

Meanwhile, my homeopath gave me another great tip: freeze lemons whole, then grate them over stir-fries and risottos, roast chicken or fish just before serving. Kaboom. (And of course, you could use stainless steel ice-cube trays...)

Would you like lemon with that?

For weeks now I’ve added lemon to every single dish. Place slices under a roast chook or add little wedges to roasted vegetables for a tangy kick, use lemon in your salad dressing instead of vinegar. For my risotto stock, I use 1 cup of dry wine, one cup of lemon juice and six cups of stock. You can freeze that, too.

Sex up steamed veggies with a squeeze of lemon juice, some oil and salt, squirt lemon on your pancakes, put it in your hair and sit in the sun for blonde highlights. Embrace the lemon…

Two more recipes

I have to share one of the most incredible recipes I know – sadly not mine. It uses a bucketload of lemons and is, quite frankly, a bit of a mess around, but my god you will be happy you bothered. This is hands-down one of my favourite sweets: Ricotta, Lemon and Almond Cake.

The second is my non-recipe for hummous. This super-nutritious snack is a fave with my kids. I soak a couple of cups of chickpeas overnight, boil them until soft then blend them with a dollop of tahini, the juice of a whole lemon, three heaped teaspoons of cumin, around a cup of olive oil and two garlic cloves, adding the chickpea cooking water as needed to get a nice smooth consistency. Add salt to taste. I use a pretty sinful amount.

Share the lemony love

Finally, a no brainer. When life gives you lemons, pass them on! Everyone can use a lemon or two, they bring sunshine into people’s lives and plates. Give wildly, carry them around with you, place a bucket outside your front gate with a sign saying “free lemons”, pitch them into your neighbours’ yards (if they come back, best stop).

Do you know how to use up excess lemons? Share your fave recipe!


  1. Eliza says

    I freeze my lemon juice in both lemonade sized portions and also smaller portions for cooking. I always label how much juice is in the container to make it easier when defrosting. I also make lemon risotto (a Donna Hay recipe that is excellent for desert and breakfast). I have had this issue and found lots of great recipes to try but ran out of inspiration before I made it through all the lovely lemons sadly. I wish I’d know you could freeze them in wedges! Great tips, thank you.
    Eliza recently posted..Do nothing.My Profile

  2. suzy says

    When we have way too many lemons, and some are past their best, I use them for cleaning the barbeque. They’re brilliant! Just cut in half, and when the barbeque is turned off but still hot I rub the cut side of the lemon halves back and forth over the grill. The lemon sizzles and takes off any fat and grot, and leaves it all fresh-smelling and clean.

  3. Bek @ Just For Daisy says

    I wish we had a lemon tree. We do have a few neighbours that occasionally give us a big bag full!
    I love to make hummous too! And another favourite is tabouli… with our homegrown parsley and a yummy squeeze of lemon. And lately we’ve made some homemade gozleme and it’s best with a squeeze of fresh lemon! :)
    Bek @ Just For Daisy recently posted..A little of usMy Profile

  4. Amy says

    Thanks Jo! This post is so timely since our “monster” lemon tree is also having about a thousand fruits all riping at the same time. We mostly give them away but I will try the slice-and-freeze method this year as well.

    Our local op shop has a basket of fresh lemons on the counter for sale at 30cents each so we’ll be donating some to them as well.

  5. Cybele @ BlahBlah says

    Lemons are great for whitening linen, you can put the juice in the wash but it is more effective to boil the lemons soak the whites and hang in the sun without rinsing. It’s the sun and lemon combo that does the whitening. I also put the peel in vinegar for cleaning to take advantage of the d-Limonene in the lemon oil. Half lemons dipped in salt are great for cleaning stainless steel sinks and if you add egg whites to the mix its the best brass and copper cleaner I’ve ever come across x
    Cybele @ BlahBlah recently posted..A very important filing system and how to make a storage boxMy Profile

  6. Gael says

    Room Freshener : Cut whole lemons into pieces, place in a heatproof bowl, pour over boiling water. You could throw in anything else you may have handy too – lavender, mint, rosemary etc.

  7. Oreo Dragon says

    Lemons are also good for cold sores and fever blisters. Just apply lemon juice or the actual lemon to it several times a day. It will hurt a little bit, depending on the sore/blister.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge