Food gifts are so nice for Christmas. They're inexpensive and easy to make. Your friends and family will be thrilled to receive something delicious!
However, a lot of the gifts that we give are sugar - fudge, cookies, hot cocoa, the list goes on!
Do you want to make a fun gift that is homemade and food related but not loaded with sugar? How about a delicious and healthy lemon oil?
Ingredients for homemade lemon oil:
The best oil to use for this is olive oil - it’s delicious drizzled on some bread, pasta, or veggies. Yet, you can do this with any kind of oil. I suggest that you use something that’s not too heavily flavored like coconut oil or sesame seed oil, because you definitely wouldn’t get a pure lemon flavor. You’re going to get a combination of flavors if it’s a heavy one. But if you want, you can play around and see what tastes good for you.
Peel your lemon
A lemon has three layers:
- the outside zest
- the white pith (which is underneath the zest)
- the juice
You just need the zest for your lemon oil because that’s where the lemon’s essential oils are.
Oil and water don’t mix, so make sure not to get any of the juice from the lemon into the oil. There’s a good chance that it is going to cause the oil to go rancid if you have the juice mixed into the oil. The pith is fine to include, but try not to have a lot of it because it can get a little bit bitter.
To peel your lemon:
Take a nice sharp paring knife and peel off the zest carefully. Just go with thin little slices. Take your time because it’s going to depend on how old your lemon is or how thick the skin is.
In case you cut too deep and you get a bunch of juice on the zest: Get a spoon and use the edge of it to peel the juicy part off. As you’re doing it, you’ll be able to see some of the pith start to peel off. Peel the pith off in one nice big piece. Just discard that, and what you’re left with is a nice piece of lemon.
Place the zest in a jar
Once you have your little stripes of zest, simply add them to a jar. If you’re doing a small batch, you could use a little jar. If you’re doing a big batch, you can use a bigger jar.
Add the oil
Make sure that there’s no liquid or air in the jar. To make sure that there’s no air, take something like a chopstick and push the zest through. When you do that, you will see some air bubbles coming up. Keep doing that until no bubbles come up! Another way to release the bubbles is to bang your jar on your cutting board. This helps to move the lemon around and release any large pockets of trapped air.
Put a cap on the jar and keep it in your pantry for a couple of weeks.
The lemon oil needs to sit for about two weeks, there’s no real defined time. Remember that the longer it sits, the stronger the lemon flavor will be. But that also leaves more of a chance that you’ll get some bitterness from the pith.
I suggest you try it for a week, taste the oil, see how it tastes, and then maybe go up to two weeks. Keep it in room temperature and out of direct sunlight.
Uses of lemon oil
There are a lot of things that you could use lemon oil for:
- on salad
- tossed with roasted veggies
- drizzled over cheese for a dip
- on top of homemade pizza
- tossed with pasta and veggies
- sauteed with mushrooms
Quick tip: Transfer the oil into a cute container, put a bow on it and your family and friends will love it! It’s a nice departure from the sugary food gifts that we often give each other.