Stray Foodie recipe: for the love of lemons


Last updated Mar 17, 2021

Stray Foodie Lockdown Recipes are written by Michelin-starred chef, Frances Atkins. In 1997, Frances opened the Yorke Arms near Pateley Bridge, where she was the owner for 20 years. During her ownership, she held her Michelin-star status for 16 of those years.

“I’ll be bringing you some of my favourite recipes each week. I’d love to see how you make the recipes your own – let me know by using #StrayFoodie or tagging @thestrayferret in your social media posts.”


It was a sunny day and the lemon trees arrived at Daleside Nurseries, what a joy to behold! As they were unpacked, the aroma was exotic.

This time of year we start to think about lemons. Maybe it’s the colour, but certainly the flavour enhances our spring foods. The lemon that we so take for granted and is so beneficial to our diet is used for culinary and non-culinary purposes throughout the world, and is one of the few fruits that gives both a sweet and sour taste. It is a rich source of Vitamin C and many other health benefits. In Morocco, lemons are preserved in jars or barrels of salt; the salt penetrates the peel and rind, preserving them, which makes an invaluable contribution to so many dishes.

Our speedy recipe for preserved lemon:

  • Take 3 unwaxed lemons and wash well.
  • Place in a pan of cold water.
  • Boil them until they are soft right the way through. This should take about 20 minutes.
  • Cool.
  • Cut in half and scrape out the pith and the flesh.
  • Push through a sieve, discarding the pips and pith.
  • Finely shred the skin and add to the sieved flesh.
  • Add a teaspoon full of salt and place back in just enough boiled water to cover the lemon, and then reduce.

Read More: 

Frances’ lemon tart with ice cream sorbet and fruit

This makes a lovely lemon preserve to keep in your fridge and to enhance your daily cooking. You could use it in a savoury lemon jelly or a lemon tart, which are great standbys for starters and desserts, or as a main such as fish or chicken steamed with lemon, garlic and herbs.

Lemon Verbena is a herb which makes wonderful lemon tea and takes the smell and taste of a lemon. Lemon balm, lemon thyme, certain mints and magnolia grande flora tree flowers all have the same beautiful flavour. Bergamot, which I adore, are grown in Italy and are termed as an orange although they are very similar to a lemon: the tree blossoms during the winter, the juice is less sour than the lemon, and the perfume is sensational.

These are all cooks tools to be valued and enjoyed when cooking.

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