Why It Works
- Lemon rinds are acidic enough to dissolve up to half their weight in sugar, imparting a strong flavor and vivid color without any added juice, flavoring, or dye.
- Nonreactive equipment keeps the syrup's flavor clean and fresh.
- Pressing the rinds with a ricer, or through a cheesecloth, helps express the lemon's essential oil.
Whether you're juicing standard supermarket lemons or their seasonal Meyer cousins, save the rinds for this vibrant yellow syrup. It's pure sunshine in a bottle, made from nothing but sugar dissolved by the acidic pulp—no cooking required! Since there's no added juice, it tastes more sweet than sour, but is balanced by the subtle bitterness of lemon oil. Use it to make Crispy Candied Pistachios and Lemon Chantilly, or try it as a mixer in your favorite cocktails.
- 15 ounces (2 1/2 cups; 425g) "used" lemon rinds, from 6 medium lemons or 12 Meyer lemons (see note)
- 7 ounces (1 cup; 200g) sugar
Cut each lemon into a few chunks and toss with sugar in a large glass, ceramic, or stainless steel mixing bowl. Cover tightly and let stand at room temperature, stirring once every 45 minutes or so, until sugar has completely dissolved, about 3 hours (or up to 12 if timing is an issue).
Using a cheesecloth-lined or fine-mesh stainless steel strainer set over a nonreactive bowl, strain syrup. Working in batches, transfer rinds to a stainless steel potato ricer and squeeze to release any extra syrup, allowing it to pass through strainer into bowl; discard rinds. Refrigerate syrup for up to 3 months in a glass bottle or pint jar.
Potato ricer or cheesecloth
This recipe takes advantage of the pithy rinds left over from juicing lemons for other projects, so it's all right if some or all of the lemons have been zested. When starting from whole lemons, simply zest (if you like) and juice beforehand.