I wrote earlier about life giving me lemons, and how that’s a GOOD thing. I love lemons! They are beautiful, taste great in and on so many things, and smell amazing. But sometimes, life (or your boss/friend/neighbor/tree) might give you something closer to 5 dozen lemons at a time.
And there’s only so much lemonade and hollandaise sauce you can make at once! So what do you do? Hopefully this little series will help you out in your quest to find out what to do with lemons when life gives them to you in quantity.
To kick off the series, let’s make Homemade Lemon Pepper Seasoned Salt. I use lemon pepper on SO many things when I’m cooking, so it’s an obvious choice for me, and I know I’ll actually use it.
You will need:
- Lots of lemons
- A microplane grater or zesting tool of some sort
- Cracked peppercorns – I just used fresh-ground pepper from my mill
- An oven or dehydrator
- A coffee grinder or vita-mix
- A good amount of time and patience, but maybe you move quicker than I do with a zester.
First, start off by making sure your lemons are quite clean. If you’ve gotten them from a source you trust (your tree, a farmer’s market, a friend’s tree), this probably just means wiping them with a sponge or cloth, and drying them off. If they’re from the grocery store and might have wax or pesticides or something on them, you’ll want to give them a good brush with a vegetable brush.
Then use a zester to remove the bright yellow outsides from the lemon. Hold the lemon still and move the zester, not the other way around – it will be easier this way; trust me. When you see white, move to another area – you don’t want the white stuff. That’s the pith and it’s bitter and not really lemon-flavored. It won’t add to your seasoning.
Tap the zest into a bowl and zest some more lemons. And zest and zest. (As you finish each one, you can cut it in half and give it to your husband to juice, but more on that later!) And when you cain’t zest no mo’…
Crack lots of black pepper into the bowl with the zest. Lots and lots, because the lemon zest is strong stuff. It can take it.
Mush it around with a fork so that the oils from the zest get all over the pepper, and the pepper rubs up on all that lovely zest too. It’s like a lemon pepper lovefest.
Once the lemon zest and the cracked pepper have mingled for a bit, spread them on some parchment paper in a thin layer on your dehydrator tray. Or on a cookie sheet if you’re using your oven.
I dried mine for several hours (5ish maybe?) at 135 degrees in my lovely new Excalibur dehydrator. If you’re using the oven, set the temperature as low as you can and leave the oven door cracked open a bit. You’ll want to check on it every now and then because the temperature will be a bit higher than what I used – you don’t want to cook it, just dry it out.
Once it’s all dry, put it in your coffee grinder or vita-mix.
And zoom it around for a while. (Or have your husband zoom it around so you can take a picture.)
I actually did it a bit more than this, because I saw big chunks of pepper, and I’m not a fan of big chunks of pepper.
Once it’s finely ground, dump it into a bowl…
And add an approximately equal amount of salt to the bowl.
Mix it up and you’ve got lemon pepper seasoned salt!
Store it in an airtight spice container or jar and use on chicken, fish, vegetables, or anywhere else you would normally pick up your McCormick’s commercially-made lemon pepper (which is delicious by the way). I don’t know about you, but I get an extra little kick out of cooking from TOTAL scratch now and then. It feels like cooking with love, straight from my heart.