I had no idea that pink lemons existed until I went to my local natural foods store - Debra's - and saw a basket of organic pink lemons. Why I never stopped to ask myself if pink lemonade really came from pink lemons I'll never know. I always assumed pink lemonade was a creation of the beverage industry and a fanciful fiction. Pink Lemons, first 'discovered' on a lemon tree in 1930, are a low-yield crop with limited growers and distribution; 'real' pink lemonade thus remains mostly fictional. This New York Times article tells the story of - among other lemon varieties - the Variegated Pink Lemon, which gets its' pink color from lycopene (as does grapefruit).
I was pretty excited by the pink lemons, never mind they were over $6.00 a pound. I'm easy that way. Really. Bring me something I've never worked with before, and I'm over the moon. When I lived in California I had access to all kinds of citrus but I never saw the pink lemons.
And here I was in Concord, MA in February. And there was a basket of pink lemons. And of course I wanted to give them a good, albeit temporary, home.
I immediately decided on risotto. I took my lemons home and sliced one up. A jewel. I could not waste it on risotto. No, I needed something a little more...sexy. A little more risque.
And so I decided on gnudi, those little, light, plump, flavorful ricotta pillows, the cheesy cousin to gnocchi. I'll post more about that tomorrow.
After I used as much of the lemons as I needed, I sliced a few up and cooked them in simple syrup. I loved the way their color changed as I cooked them.
First they turned tangerine orange and then a deeper shade of brown...
Tomorrow I'll have some chewy candied lemon. Mmmm.
These could be used in a cocktail or as a garnish. Or just eaten out of hand, if you don't mind the slightly bitter rind....
Pink Lemons are available October through February.