Once upon a time, an Italian girl in the Land of Steady Habits decided she wanted a lemon tree. Yes, you can grow your own citrus–even in New England! And I do.

Two years ago, Limona came home with me.


This semi-dwarf Meyer lemon tree basks in the sun on the deck in warmer weather, and in the living room when temperatures fall. Check out this fun slideshow of Limona with April Katt on YouTube. My little tree, how you’ve grown!

She’s blooming beautifully right now with loads of jasmine-scented blossoms.


Of course, like everything else in Katty’s Kitchen, the harvest is very much an artisanal, small batch operation. Limona yielded four–count them, four–lemons.


That’s OK, I need but three lemons to make gelato.

LIMONA LEMON TREE GELATO

1¼ cups whole milk (I use The Farmer’s Cow)
¼ cup heavy cream
1 can sweetened condensed milk
4 large egg yolks
1/3 vanilla bean pod, split and scraped (or ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract)
½ cup fresh squeezed lemon juice (3 lemons for me)
2 teaspoons lemon zest
pinch salt

Heat milk and vanilla on medium to  medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, till small bubbles form at edge of pan. Remove from heat.

Beat together egg yolks and sweetened condensed milk till smooth. Temper egg mixture by slowly adding to hot milk, whisking constantly. Cook over medium-high heat and continue to whisk until mixture reaches 160 degrees F. Do not let it boil!

Strain through fine-mesh sieve into clean bowl, let cool to room temperature. Give the lemons a roll on the counter to maximize the juice before you squeeze ’em. Stir in salt, lemon juice and zest. You can make an ice bath to speed up the process. Chill custard overnight or at least four hours.

Just before turning the chilled custard into your ice cream maker, place the custard and the dasher from your machine into the freezer for up to 20 minutes. It makes the custard nice and thick. Next, let’s go for a spin: process according to your ice cream machine’s directions. Remember, lemon zest LOVES to hang out on the dasher, so be sure to scrape the dasher carefully to ensure the zest goes into the gelato where it belongs. Enjoy!

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I should confess, this kat gets weak at the knees for good key lime pie. I had been wanting to make a new gelato flavor and was leaning toward lemon till I saw a recipe with sweetened condensed milk–canned bliss!–and immediately turned my thoughts to key lime pahhh.

I took Nellie & Joe’s key lime pie recipe, added some fresh lemon zest and combined it with a basic gelato recipe. It’s summery, citrusy-bright with cinnamon graham crumbs to complete the key lime pie flavor. I think you’re gonna love it–I know I had a hard time stopping myself from eating little bowls of the custard before I even spun it up, then shamelessly licked every associated bowl, spatula and the dasher afterwards. Mmmmm!

KEY LIME PIE GELATO

1.5 cups whole milk
1 can sweetened condensed milk
4 large egg yolks
1/3 vanilla bean pod, split and scraped (or ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract)
½ cup key lime juice (I used Nellie & Joe’s)
2 teaspoons lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon salt
cinnamon grahams, crushed (for topping)

Heat milk and vanilla on medium to  medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, till small bubbles form at edge of pan. Remove from heat.

Beat together egg yolks and sweetened condensed milk till smooth. Temper egg mixture by slowly adding to hot milk, whisking constantly. Cook over medium-high heat and continue to whisk until mixture reaches 160 degrees F and custard coats the back of a spoon. Do not let it boil!

Strain through fine-mesh sieve into clean bowl, let cool to room temperature. Stir in salt, lime juice and lemon zest. You can make an ice bath to speed up the process. Chill custard overnight or at least four hours.

Mmmmm...zesty!

Just before turning the chilled custard into your ice cream maker, place the custard and the dasher from your machine into the freezer for up to 10 minutes. And now, into the spin cycle: process according to your ice cream machine’s directions.

Gelato--finito!

Note: after I had smoothed all the gelato into its storage container and set about licking the dasher, I noticed clumps of lemon zest had gathered on it. OOPS! Well, some of it is still in the gelato. You might want to carefully scrape the dasher to ensure the zest goes where it belongs…though it was a tasty, zesty lick, too! NOM! Top each serving with crumbled grahams.

Ready to lick!

This is such a creamy, dreamy gelato–probably the most intense flavor and richest texture I’ve made so far. If you’ve ever been to the Florida Keys and enjoyed frozen key lime pie on a stick, this comes very close–minus the stick and the chocolate dip. So transport yourself, bite by bite, lick by lick–no lines, no luggage, no ticket, no turbulence, just pure pleasure. Enjoy the ride!