When Life Gives You Lemons

They sell lemons at the supermarket for about a dollar each, and sometimes three for two dollars.
I bought a house earlier this year which cost a lot more than a dollar, and it came with a lemon tree that has produced a shitload of lemons. And based on my year 10 understandings of botany it will do this every year? Which means...

Sadly, a shitload of lemons are only better than a handful of lemons for the purposes of: being given to your friends; improving your relationship with your neighbours; and leaving in a bag on the kitchen counter in the office with a post-it saying “Help Yourself :)”

A lemon tree overhanging a fence.

And this isn't even my lemon tree, they're the bonus lemons from my neighbour leaning over the fence to introduce themselves.


And there has been a pandemic this whole citrus season. I’ve left lemons on the kitchen counter while working from home several times but rarely have they disappeared or transmogrified into a three-quarter-eaten cake that I exercise my willpower to ignore while eating almonds

And then, back in April, two people in head-to-toe orange hazmat suits told me that there’s also a fruit fly pandemic in my suburb. The government advised I couldn’t even distribute lemons to my friends who lived more than a fruit fly’s flying distance away. Like me, the lemons needed to #JustStayHome.

Life had given me - metaphorically and literally - lemons. And obviously nothing could prepare you for a situation like this. So I asked the internet what to do, and it came up with some - actually, quite a lot of - suggestions which I’ve been roadtesting recently, and will now share for the benefit of all my readers.

An assortment of lemons on the official Bradism Raised Cutting Board for Tall People

An assortment of lemons on the official Bradism Raised Cutting Board for Tall People


It turns out lemons are good for a lot of things beyond eating raw like a juicy, slightly pointy mandarin, or adding to gin. You can turn milk into buttermilk, create fire-starters with rind, write invisible messages. But the main uses of lemons that I’ve ascertained from multiple articles are in the domain of cleaning and insect control. In fact, after reading about all the different chemicals, de-scalers and deodorizers that can be replaced with lemon juice I have had to ask myself, truly, are lemons even safe to eat?

Cleaning the Microwave

The first trick I tried was to “clean my microwave without any scrubbing.” This was, incidentally, the same method I’d been using to clean my microwave since I bought it in 2008. But this time it was intentional.
The method is to slice up a lemon, place the slices into a bowl of water, and microwave the lemon water on high for ten minutes. The diluted juice-steam will cover all the interior surfaces of the microwave, allowing built up stains and oils to easily be wiped away with a cloth or paper towel.
And that’s what I did. And there was indeed sour-smelling condensation on the walls and roof of my microwave. After wiping them off the microwave was clean of all that built up lemon smell and lemon rind.
Sadly I do not have a second microwave to use for a control group, but I’m not convinced I couldn't have achieved the same result by steaming a bowl of plain water for the same amount of time.

Cleaning the Kitchen Sink

I turned my eye to the kitchen sink, where I could experiment at least by cleaning half the stainless steel with a lemon and the other half with just a sponge.
A dirty portion of a kitchen sink.

Before cleaning with lemon.


Obviously I prepared the sink in advance to be dirty so I could test out the efficacy of the lemon.
I cut the lemon in half, used the juicy part like a sponge and the rindy part like a scourer, and cleaned the cleaning rack part of the sink.
Compared to just a sponge, it resulted in shinier metal.
A clean portion of a kitchen sink.

After cleaning with lemon.


This might be a life hack?

Cleaning a Frying Pan

I’ve had this Circulon Frying Pan since 2009, and while I definitely wash it after every use it’s safe to say there is a fair layer of seasoning between what gets cooked these days and what came out of the factory.

I took the same approach on the corrugated surface of the pan as I did with the sink.

A slightly-stained frying pan.

I’m not sure if this is a before or after pic, which should tell you everything you need to know about the results.

Probably for the best, as I’m pretty sure that the echoes of a decade of stir fries, chilis and Moroccan lambs only adds to flavour of the things I cook today.
I’m considering making a lemon chicken tomorrow.

Clean a Cutting Board

I cut myself a fresh lemon on our little cutting board, then decided I would see if the lemon-sponge approach would work here too.
Lemons are apparently good for cleaning a wooden cutting board, but I didn’t have a dirty one of those.
After a bit of elbow-work on one side, I rubbed both sides down with an Oates scourer.
a small cutting board cleaned by a lemon half.
A small cutting board cleaned by a sponge alone. It's slightly less clean than the lemon side.

The lemon side did have the built up stains stripped a bit more effectively.
Ultimately I think you could clean the entire stain off a cutting board with lemons, but you’d need a shitload of them.

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