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A Holiday Drink with Homegrown Lemons and Homemade Ginger Syrup

It’s lemon season.

Meyere lemon wedges

Citrus heaven.

Well, technically, the season for Meyer lemons grown in temperate areas, such as a big pot in my Missouri dining room, can be year-round. But we just finally picked the first golden bursts of sunshine from our little tree.

In a little over a year, we have seen our little Meyer lemon tree burst into bloom a couple of times. After creating an intoxicating fragrance, most of the flowers fell off. But last spring, several of blooms gave way to little green fruits.

Two of them lasted through the hot, hot summer, my inconsistent care and a move back inside for winter. I eyed the lemon babies daily for signs of yellowing. Finally, they were ready.

Since we only had two, I wanted to be sure we used them for some special and memorable recipe.

homegrown meyer lemons

There they are! Two homegrown lemons!

By chance, around the same time, my DIY gourmet friend Lisa gave me a bottle of her homemade ginger syrup.

So, Zach cut up the lemons – which were amazingly sweet, tart and juicy – and mixed up some delicious drinks (with a little help from the Sodastream that I previously bought on Lisa’s recommendation).

Check out the recipe for the drinks and the syrup itself!

Lemon Vodka Gingerade (Crystal’s approximation of Zach’s recipe)

Ingredients:

  • Vodka
  • Lemon wedges
  • Ginger Syrup
  • Unflavored sparkling water
  • Ice

Directions:

Fill a pint glass with ice. Add vodka. We usually pour to about 1/4 of the glass. This would be about 1 to 1-1/2 shots if you’re measuring.  Next, add sparkling water, leaving about a finger’s width of room at the top of the glass. Grab a couple lemon wedges and squeeze them into the drink. Then, add ginger syrup to taste.

Now, stir, and enjoy!

Lemon Vodka Gingerade and Ginger Syrup

That bottle of syrup didn’t last long at our house!

A Loose Recipe for Ginger Syrup (Lisa’s Recipe)

Ingredients:

  • 3 big pieces of ginger, about the size of your hand
  • (Filtered) water
  • 2.5 – 3.5 cups suger, I used about 2 parts white, 1 part lt. brown, 1 part raw
  • A few pieces of lemon peel from an organic, unwaxed lemon, no pith

Directions:

No need to peel the ginger, just wash it well.  Pulse in a blender until it is well minced. Cover with water in a heavy bottom pot. I just eyeball the amount of water, about 3 times more than the ginger.  But err on the side of less since you can always add more water later if it is too strong. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 45 mins. Strain and try to press out as much of the liquid from the ginger as possible.  Discard ginger.  Return to the pot and add the suger. Simmer on low for another 30 mins.  Turn off the heat and add the lemon peel.  Let the syrup cool then strain it one more time.  Done. It’s ready to get made into some amazing drink.

Note: I just filter it though a medium/fine mesh sieve a couple of times, but if you want it less cloudy and pulpy, you can pass it though cheese cloth a few times before you add the suger.

On this batch, I boiled the ginger down a second time with a couple fresh cups of water.  I thought I could get more ginger flavor, but I think it just got a bit bitter.  I probably wont do that again.

Have you ever made your own syrup for flavoring fancy drinks? What’s your favorite sparkling drink for holiday time?

A lemon tree blooms in Missouri

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The sweet and subtle scent of citrus has permeated our dining room since our little Meyer Lemon Tree began blooming. We purchased the dwarf citrus on sale at Loew’s last summer. They also had kumquats, limes and dwarf oranges available, but I decided to start with the Meyer lemon, since I’ve heard it’s the easiest citrus plant to grow in a pot.

The photos above show the progression of the buds to blooms, which all happened over the past month. The petals are currently dropping. Our baby tree does not seem mature enough to produce fruit this year, but I hope that under our care someday it will. Maybe eventually we won’t need to buy bags lemons like the one from Whole Foods at the end of the slideshow.

Although we are just novices at this whole gardening thing, I am inspired by what nature will allow if you do the right things. For an inspiring look into the possibilities of permaculture, check out this video about Sepp Holzer‘s farm in Austria — he grows organic citrus trees on the side of a snowy mountain!

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