Lemon Squash 4.000

Goran Kosanovic for The Washington Post

DIY Jan 10, 2016

This easy-to-make version of a squash -- a sweetened fruit juice concentrate -- is bright with the flavor of lemon oil, zest and juice. Build your own beverages or cold remedies, or use the squash to sweeten iced tea or flavor a flute of prosecco; see VARIATIONS, below.

Use organic, unwaxed lemons when possible, or scrub conventional lemons, as the rind is integral to the recipe. If you use Meyer lemons, the squash will have a slight floral note.

To zest the fruit, you can use a channel knife, sometimes called a citrus stripper, which has a U-shaped blade to create long, thin strips of citrus zest. If you’re going to can the squash (see NOTES, below), you’ll need clean jars and rings, and new lids.

Make Ahead: Properly canned lemon squash can be stored at room temperature for up to 12 months. It can be frozen in jars (directly, with plastic lids), leaving a 1-inch head space to allow for expansion, for up to 3 months.

4 half-pint jars; makes 32 ounces total

When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 4 half-pint jars; makes 32 ounces total

  • 10 lemons (see headnote)
  • 4 cups water
  • 3 cups sugar


Use a vegetable peeler or channel knife to zest 4 of the lemons. (You don’t have to be too careful about the amount of pith.)

Bring the water to a boil in a large, wide pot over high heat, then add all the lemons, including the zested ones, and the strips of lemon peel. (Depending on the size of your pot, you might have to do this in batches; the fruit must be submerged.) Cook for 2 minutes, then transfer the lemons to a bowl to cool. Reserve 2 cups of the lemon cooking water and the boiled strips of lemon peel in a separate medium saucepan.

When the lemons are cool enough to handle, cut them in half, then juice them into a large liquid measuring cup, straining and discarding the pulp, seeds and spent lemon halves. The yield should be 1 to 1 1/2 cups.

Add the sugar to the lemon cooking water and lemon peels in the saucepan; bring to a boil over high heat; cook for 5 minutes, then remove from the heat. Discard the lemon peels, or reserve them for candying (see NOTES, below). Stir in the fresh lemon juice until well incorporated.

Fill the jars, leaving a 1/4-inch head space. Wipe the jar rims well and place the lids and rings, tightening until just secure. Process for 10 minutes in a boiling-water bath, starting the timing from the moment the water returns to a boil. Remove the jars from the water bath, setting them upright on a folded towel to cool completely. Make sure the seals are tight before storing, for up to 1 year.

VARIATIONS: To make Lemon Honey Squash, replace 1 cup of the sugar with 1 cup of honey.

To make Ginger Lemon Cold-Be-Gone, cut a 1-inch piece of peeled fresh ginger root into coin-size slices and add them to the boiling mixture of lemon water, zest and sugar; discard the ginger after cooking. Stir the cooled mixture into hot water as a cold soother.

To make a bourbon or cognac sidecar, combine 1 1/2 ounces of liquor and 1 ounce of the Lemon Squash. Serve over ice.

NOTES: To make Quick Candied Lemon Strips, boil 1 cup of water and 1 cup of sugar over medium-high heat, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Add the reserved peels (from the 4 lemons) you used to make the Lemon Squash. Reduce the heat to medium-low; cook for 30 minutes or until the strips are tender and somewhat translucent. Drain them and dry on a rack, then toss them in sugar until well coated. The candied strips can be stored in an airtight container between layers of wax paper dusted with a little sugar for up to 1 week. The citrus-flavored syrup is a bonus ingredient that can be used in cocktails, brushed on baked goods or used to baste meats headed to the barbecue; it can be cooled, then refrigerated in an airtight container for several months.

Water-bath canning safely seals high-acid, low-pH foods in jars. The time for processing in the water bath is calculated based on the size of the jar and the consistency and density of the food. For safety's sake, do not alter the jar size, ingredients, ratios or processing time in any canning recipe. If moved to change any of those factors, simply put the prepared food in the refrigerator and eat it within a week.

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Recipe Source

From Cathy Barrow, the author of “Mrs. Wheelbarrow’s Practical Pantry: Recipes and Techniques for Year-Round Preserving” (W.W. Norton, 2014).

Tested by Cathy Barrow.

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