I’ve been doing a lot of experimenting with dehydrating lemons. Doug and I are trying to get away from diet soda, and I’m looking for something besides water to send Katelyn in her Thermos to school. We love lemon water and I cook with lemons a lot, so I like to stock up on lemons when I get a good deal. I recently got a half box of lemons at the farmer’s market for 63 cents a pound, so I was all geared up for an experiment. I wasn’t sure how dried lemons would translate re-hydrated though, so my drinking glasses have been test tubes lately, and my dehydrator hasn’t stopped running.
The first thing I did is obvious – – I sliced lemons and put them in the dehydrator. After they finished dehydrating, I put them in water, added some Truvia, and ice. (Truvia is expensive, but I got a big box for a dollar during a Super Double coupon promotion.) I put the mixture in the fridge overnight. The next morning I took a drink and hey, it was actually good! But, the longer it sat, the more I could taste bitterness coming from the peel. If you are just putting the dehydrated lemons in your drink for the day, it’s not a problem, but if you are wanting to make a pitcher for the fridge, you need to cut off some of the peel.
I sliced them, but in the places I took off too much, the lemons didn’t hold together, so I was forced to cut them a little thicker, but not too thick, and make sure I was cutting the rind off evenly. Then something clicked – I could sugar each lemon before drying, so all that’s needed for a glass of lemonade would be contained in a slice or two.
I grabbed my box of Truvia and started ripping open packages, emptying them into a bowl. I dredged each of my lemon slices into the sweetener, and dried them for 48 hours on 135 degree setting. I know two days is a lot to dry something, but it’s not like you have to sit and hold a blow dryer to them, so it’s not a big deal. Half way through drying I carefully flipped them over. Your lemons will dry according to the thickness of your lemons. You know the lemons are dry when the lemon pulp is brittle. If you feel any softness or stickiness, your lemons are not acceptable for non-refrigerated storage.
After my “lemonade wheels” were done, I put two of them in a tall glass with water and ice, and let it sit 30 minutes. It worked! Light, refreshing lemonade. This is a subtle drink, and not the thicker, sweeter lemonade you are used to, but I like it better. And, no calorie guilt. I was so excited about this working, as I lay in bed that night, I started fantasizing how to make this even cooler. You could pulse dried herbs like lavender, add pinch or two to the sweetener and coat your lemons for drying. Huummmm, lavender lemonade wheels. I’m for sure growing lavender this summer now.