Labors of Love
Labors of love — we have plenty.
We try to impress a hands-on feeling to almost everything we do. Whether it’s hand labeling, wax dipping and hand stamping all our bombers, or making homemade candi sugar for our beer, we do what it takes. It’s not always the easiest way, and almost never the most efficient way — but it’s what we believe to be the right way, and that’s all we give a shit about.
Today’s example: carefully peeling a shit ton of lemons.
Wait wait wait, let’s back it up. I hear you already: “Helder, why the fuck would you do that? They sell lemon peel in bulk, like this right here on Amazon . One click purchase dude! Then you can get back to drinking!”
To which I then reply “Nay — not so fast, Tanto. Also you may have a drinking problem if you can’t take a break to peel some lemons. Lock it up.”
I’ve done my fair share of brewing with lemon and other lemon-like products. I’ve used the homebrew store bought lemon peel, the food grade stuff, I’ve used lemon zest, and I’ve used lemon balm and lemon verbena. After all that, I like the method I’m about to show you the best. Why? Because it produces a better result. Plain and simple. More details:
- Homebrew store/food grade lemon peel: Can give you a weird pithy bitterness, more on this in a second
- Lemon zest: Works great if you’re trying to make a beer that you can also clean your floors with. Super strong lemon flavor and aroma — Pine Sol like. I think it has to do with releasing all the oils in the peel and/or the greater surface area contact with the beer. Not sure, I didn’t like my results, however.
- Lemon Balm/Lemon Verbena: Again, very perfumey and a bit too intense. This character subsides with time, and could probably be mitigated by using less, but my experiences really make me shy away from these options.
Enter: The Backlash Solution
For starters, we’re using organic lemons. That mean’s no pesticides coating the outside of the lemon, which is common in non-organic lemons. Also, I’m peeling these sons’a bitches myself. One by one. Piece by piece. And here’s why: I’m peeling only the yellow part of the lemon. Next time you’re in a grocery store or homebrew shop, take a look at the pre-made stuff. It includes an incredible amount of the white pith stuff under the yellow goodness. In my experience, that white shit will contribute to some of the strange bitterness I mentioned above. Check this out:
When done correctly, you shouldn’t be able to tell which side of the lemon peel was the original outside. Both should be nearly identical if you’ve left all the white stuff behind.
Some of these are “face up” and some are “face down” — really hard to tell the difference when you do it right. If you look at the bottom left there’s a piece on the outside with some white — sometimes the riper lemons can be difficult — just a heads up.
It’s very very tedious work, and requires a steady hand — but it can be done. And to be honest, if you’re a homebrewer you won’t need to do, say, 40lbs worth of lemons (I only did 10lbs today — will need to do this in installments in order to retain my sanity) for a batch.
But take my word for it, if you want a little lemon zip in your beer, use organic lemons and peel em yourself. Plus, things are so much more satisfying when you put in a little work.
Naked lemons! Avert your eyes, pervert!
Now all that’s left to do is decide what you want to do with all these nudist lemons. I sliced them all in half and then hand squeezed (I know — I’m a glutton for punishment) them for the juice. Nothing like some fresh squeezed, organic lemon juice for your cocktails and cooking. That’s all for now!