These Peppermint Lemon Sticks are a summertime treat that is a Baltimore classic! They have been served for over a century at the annual Maryland FlowerMart festival, and for good reason: their sweet and sour taste is a refreshing delight to the senses with a fun and unique presentation!
These easy, refreshing treats are perfect for summertime when it's too hot to bake! You might also want to try our Orange Basil Granita or Strawberry Pineapple Coconut Swirl Popsicles for an easy dessert when the weather is warm!
When I was researching foods that best represent Maryland for my American Eats series, I stumbled on these delightful little lemon sticks. At first I didn't think I would include it in my collection, since it's hardly a recipe at all with just two ingredients.
But they were so fun and fragrant and enjoyable to eat that I decided they needed representation every bit as much as the French Silk Pie that I also chose to represent Maryland in my dessert category.
I first learned about these in an article from Atlas Oscura, which has great info if you want to know more about the lemon stick tradition, which seems to have been around since at least 1911 when the FlowerMart first began. A little further digging led me to a Saveur article that said the lemon stick came from 18th century England. Yet another article claims that they came from France.
The important thing to know is that they are juicy and delicious! It's the perfect start-of-summer treat and would be a great surprise for kids and adults alike.
And wow do they smell fantastic! The fragrant lemon juice and sweet peppermint are so enticing! It's fun to make a platter of these to set out for a gathering so everyone can have something fun to sip and enjoy.
How do you eat a lemon stick?
This is the fun part of this Maryland delicacy and really the whole point of the treat. You use the porous peppermint stick as a straw to suck up the lemon juice!
At first you just get peppermint, and you might even want to bite off the top of the stick if the juice just isn't flowing. But as the stick starts to dissolve, the lemon works its way up and each sip is a surprise! Some sips are more sweet and others more sour as the two flavors meld together. It's a bit like lemonade since the sugar of the stick mellows the sour of the lemon so that it's still lip-puckering, but enjoyable.
What You'll Need
All you need to make these are a bunch of fresh lemons and some porous peppermint sticks! King Leo's or Bob's Sweet Stripes are the two brands that I know of. It's easy to find Bob's Sweet Stripes at Christmas, but during the rest of the year you will probably need to order them online.
If you have never had these kind of peppermint sticks, they aren't exactly "soft", but they aren't a hard candy like regular candy canes either. You can easily bite them without worrying about breaking a tooth or losing a filling. And the peppermint is a mild, sweet one.
How to Make Lemon Sticks
I recommend rolling your lemons on the counter using the palm of your hand to press them a bit. This helps break up the pulp inside the lemon before slicing it so that they are extra juicy.
You can use a sharp knife to slice a bit off each end so there is a stable base for the lemons to stand on for better presentation. Just be careful that your slice is really thin though so you don't cut into the flesh of the lemon. That would be a bit like biting off the bottom of your ice cream cone and you'll have a juicy, sticky mess on your hands.
Slice each lemon in half, then stick a peppermint stick into the center of each half. If you have any trouble with this, you can score a small "X" in the center of each lemon using a sharp knife to make it easier to push them in.
That's it! Serve them up for friends and family to enjoy and half fun sucking the lemon juice through your peppermint straw!
More Lemon Recipes
Did you make this recipe?
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Baltimore Peppermint Lemon Sticks
- 4 lemons
- 8 old-fashioned peppermint candy sticks either King Leo or Bob's Big Stripes brands, not candy canes
- Roll each lemon on the counter with a little pressure from your hand to break up some of the pulp so it's extra juicy.
- Make a small slice at each end of the lemon so there is a flat surface on both ends. Slice the lemons in half.
- Stick a peppermint stick into the center of each lemon, pushing it to the bottom. You may need to make a small "X" in the center of each lemon with a sharp knife if the lemon stick doesn't push in easily. Use the lemon stick like a straw to suck up the lemon juice. It may take a bit for it to start working, but the juice will eventually flow up through the porous candy.