For the love of lemons

Posted on 2 min read

Wince at the sight of a lemon? Can’t imagine putting a slice of it into your mouth? Hate that sour grimace it gives you? Detest tart coffee drinks? Run away from the yellow color? We are here to help you bring back love into your relation with citruses.

As a side note, we might want to mention that you should definitely check out the coffee lemonade. Even if you can’t wrap your mind around it, it’s worth trying at least once. But the reason for the lemon theme is not a drink but a pie.

Pies are everyone’s best friends. Even queens love pies (or is it ‘especially’?). In the book of Queen Victoria’s chief chef Charles Elmé Francatelli ‘The Modern Cook’ there is a lovely recipe of lemon mincemeat. Despite the name, it has almost nothing to do with meat. Basically it’s a pie filled with suet.

The Modern Cook is also said to be the first English cookbook with the wafer cornets filled with ice cream ‘receipt’ (yes, ‘receipt’ – ‘recipe’ is French). Chef used them to garnish his glorious iced puddings.

Back to lemon and pies. In England, mincemeat is usually a mixture of fresh berries, raisins, apples, lemons, sugar, spices, and suet, which is used as a filling for traditional Christmas cakes.

If you are already preparing for the holiday (I mean you can’t start early enough, right?), boil four lemons until soft and pound them with a pestle in a mortar along with a kilogram of sugar. Give the mixture a day to sit in the fridge, then add to it a kilogram of fat, a kilogram of black currant and half a kilo of raisins, a glass of brandy with port (‘rather more of the former than the latter’ as said 100 years ago in one family recipe book) and some spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and allspice. Now put everything in the shortbread, bake for twenty minutes.

If, however, you are appalled by the addition of suet, you definitely can go without it. Yes, fat does impart a nice luscious mouthfeel to a pie, but, strictly speaking, we don’t need it to indulge in forgotten pleasures of pie binge-eating. Historians believe that mincemeat was a way of preserving various meats. Acid from citruses and alcohol used to prevent bacteria from propagating, retarding spoilage. But in the era of refrigeration, we can store meat safely in the cold, while eating gorgeous pies without suet. Want to make your pies even more lemon-y? Try adding candied lemon peels or even sweet-tart lemon chews candy into the mincemeat. Bake a pie, serve it with lemon curd, and bring it to the Queen.

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