Post #562 Lemon That Goes On Forever

February 18, 2018 at 10:41 AM | Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Post #562 Lemon That Goes On Forever

I’ve probably mentioned it before, but I really like lemons.  Matter of fact, I’ve probably mentioned it many times before.  Like most people, my earliest memories of lemon are drinking KoolAid Lemonade in the summertime, and sucking on lemon drop candy whenever they were available.  There used to be a store on the corner in this one place we lived that sold penny candy from a counter.  I remember buying fifteen pieces of hard candy for a nickel and sucking those things all day long.  The lemon usually disappeared first.

When we moved to Arizona, I found myself in the middle of citrus heaven.  Oranges, tangerines, gigantic grapefruit (whose flavor I detest and never ever eat them), limes, and lemons were so common, people had trees in their yards and begged people to come over and take the fruit.  Where I once was used to pulling a ripe apple off a tree, now I could grab an orange.  Roadside fruit stands were common.  One time after I’d graduated from high school, I stopped at a stand that was open year round that belonged to a friend’s family.  I was looking for a half gallon of fresh orange juice.  The younger sister and I were chatting while she was eating something citrus.  She handed me a section.

“Here, try this.  It’s from one of our new trees.”  They had a large orchard that stocked their fruit stand.

“What is it?”  It looked pale yellow, almost white.

“It’s a white grapefruit.”

I declined.  “I don’t like grapefruit.  Tastes nasty to me.” I explained.

“You’ll like this.  It’s sweeter than normal grapefruit.”

I shrugged and popped it into my mouth.  A burst of strong, overpowering lemon flavor exploded in my mouth.  When it’s not what you’re expecting, it will come as a surprise and I almost spit it out.  I know my eyes were watering.  But it was lemon and I ate it and eventually enjoyed it.

When I was a kid, and had extra quarter to spend, I more often than not would get one of those terrible hand pies from Hostess and the only one I’d consider getting was lemon.  I still eat those things.

When we moved to Maryland, we found a dairy that made lemon ice cream.  It wasn’t a sorbet or a sherbet or a frozen ice.  It was vanilla ice cream, but they blended lemon zest and some pulp into the ice cream.  They also found the best lemon sandwich cookie which they broke into small pieces and mixed into the ice cream.  We must have eaten forty gallons of that stuff before we moved.  So so good.  Especially with chocolate sauce.  Yum!

Back in my early twenties, my sister in law decided she wanted to make a home made lemon meringue pie from scratch all by herself with no help from anyone.  She grabbed my mom’s old cookbook and went to her house.  We didn’t see her all day.  Since the pie was the star for the day, my brother and I put together a quick cookout  of hot dogs and hamburgers and an afternoon of splashing in the pool.  His wife showed up later in the afternoon with a pie that looked like it came from a professional bakery.  One thing about lemon meringue pie.  It will always look spectacular as long as you put enough meringue on top and brown it right.  Hers was crunch, though.  I glanced at the filling and noticed seeds and white rind suspended in the yellow curd.  I really wouldn’t have been surprised to see leaves and twigs floating in there, too.  Later, when I suggested next time she strain the lemon juice, she giggled her high pitched embarrassed giggle and said she forgot and hoped no one would notice.

So, the best ever lemon pie I’ve ever had or made comes from America’s Test Kitchen.  As always with ATK, follow the directions to the letter.  They run the tests to make certain that the results are reliable and delicious.  This one uses a LOT of lemon juice so have plenty of lemons on hand.  One trick to get more juice from a lemon is to roll it vigorously on the counter while pressing hard on the fruit.  It will break up the fibers inside and help release more juice.  And don’t forget to strain the juice.  ATK encourages people to share their recipes, just give proper credit and don’t change the recipe.  So try the pie and share if you want to!

ATK’s Mile High Lemon Pie

  • Lemon Filling
    1 ¼ cup sugar
    1 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons finely grated zest (see note)
  • ½ cup water
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 8 large egg yolks (4 whites reserved for the meringue)
  • 4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces and softened
  • Note: Zest the lemons before juicing them.

Whisk sugar, lemon juice, water, cornstarch and salt together in a large nonreactive saucepan until cornstarch is dissolved. Bring to simmer over medium heat, whisking occasionally until mixture becomes translucent and begins to thicken, about 5 minutes. Whisk in egg yolks until combined. Stir in zest and butter. Bring to simmer and stir constantly until mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 2 minutes. Pour into cooked and cooled pie crust. Place plastic wrap directly on surface of filling and refrigerate until set and well chilled, at least 2 hours and up to 1 day.

  • Meringue
    ½ cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 large egg whites (reserved from filling)
  • Pinch of salt
  • ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Adjust oven rack to the middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Combine water and sugar in small saucepan. Bring to a vigorous boil over medium to high heat. Once syrup comes to a rolling boil, cook for exactly 4 minutes (mixture will become slightly thickened and syrupy). Remove from heat and set aside while beating egg whites. The 4 minute time frame was stressed in the show to get the sugar syrup to the right temperature.

Beat egg whites in stand mixer at medium-low speed until frothy, about 2 minutes. Add salt and cream of tartar, and beat gradually increasing speed to medium-high, until egg whites hold soft peaks, about 2 minutes. With the mixer running, slowly pour hot syrup into whites. Add vanilla and beat until the meringue has cooled and becomes very thick and shiny, 7-9 minutes).

Using a rubber spatula, mound meringue over filling, making sure meringue touches the edges of the crust. Use the spatula to create peaks all over the meringue. Bake until peaks turn golden brown, about 6 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and cool to room temperature. Serve.



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