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What do you do when life hands you a lemon?

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Lemon-treeWhen I was a teenager living in Florida, one of my favorite pastimes was ding my bike past the orange grove and smelling the fresh blossoms. Now, I’m looking forward to experiencing that delicious aroma once again when the sweet smell of citrus floats through the air in Palm Springs in the coming months.

Like so many local areas, there is often an abundance of lemons, oranges and grapefruits around my neighborhood. It’s a shame to see them go to waste, but what to do?

When citrus crops are safe from pests such as the Asian citrus psyllid, it’s a great idea to get a group together to glean. What is gleaning? It’s working together to harvest crops so they don’t go to waste. And if you’re familiar with Jean Francois Millet’s 1857 painting, The Gleaners, it’s not quite as hard as it can appear to be.

Gleaning is simply the act of gathering, and when we come together to harvest as a community, it can lead to great things. This includes making new friendships and helping others in need. It’s also beneficial because gleaning can keep citrus out of our landfill.

Instead it can land in a great recipe.

Here are just a few ideas!

• Squeeze the juice and freeze in a pop or in a fruity ice cube.

• Enjoy a hot water and lemon juice shot every morning during season to balance your PH level.

• Dehydrate citrus and dip in dark chocolate for a yummy treat. Slice citrus and grill it on your backyard BBQ with a little maple syrup.

• Candy the peels of any citrus – you just need a healthy sugar alternative such as xylitol, water and the fruit.*

*To candy your peels for any recipe; remove peels and cut in strips, boil and drain. Remove citrus strips from water and add a sugar alternative such as xylitol granules to a second boil (about four cups or 1 cup per cup of water). When the granules dissolve, add citrus strips back in and cook until the citrus peels are clear. Remove the peels, allow them to cool, and then roll the peels in sweet granules for coating.

So with that in mind, go on, get a group together and glean! The rewards can be sweet, or sour – but always delicious. And remember that your local City government (such as the drop-off at 425 Civic Drive in Palm Springs) is likely collecting excess citrus for the less fortunate.

Michele Mician is the sustainability manager for the City of Palm Springs and can be reached at michele.mician@palmspringsca.gov or visit www.yoursustainablecity.com.

Lemon-pops Lemon-pie Lemon-tart Lemonade