It was a strange year for citrus – our oranges were non-existent, our mandarins were so sour as to be inedible by anyone except the birds – but the lemon and lime trees overproduced. We’ve been in drought for the past 18 months (we’ve just received drought breaking rain with the virgo new moon – yippee!) so no doubt that has affected them.
So, what to do with all of these lemons? I do what I often do when faced with a produce problem: go to my favourite cooking book of all time: The Cook’s Companion by Stephanie Alexander. Seriously, I have often thought that if I only had one cook book, it would be that one. This book is arranged in order of ingredients, so when I have lots of lemons, I just turn to the lemon section:
250g coarse kitchen salt
10 thick-skinned lemons, scrubbed and quartered
1 bay leaf, torn into pieces
1 stick of cinnamon, broken into pieces
Juice of four extra lemons
Scatter a spoonful of salt into a sterilised 1 litre jar. Tip lemons into a large plastic container with remaining salt and mix well. Pack salty fruit into the jar, skin side out, inserting pieces of bay leaf, cinnamon and clove as you go. Press down hard on the fruit to release as much juice as possible, pour extra juice over the top to cover the lemons and top with the left over salt. Cap tightly and leave for a month.
Now all I need to do is find some good recipes that use preserved lemons – what’s your favourite?
The next thing to do was to make lemon cordial. I’ve made this a few times before – my family loves it and begs me to make it all year round 🙂
(makes 2 litres of cordial concentrate)
2kg caster sugar
1 litre of water
2 tbl citric acid
2 tbl tartaric acid
Juice of 6 lemons
finely crated zest of 2 lemons
Dissolve sugar in water over heat in a non-reactive saucepan (you, know, not aluminium). Add citric and tartaric acids. Stir to ensure that all is dissolved, then bring to a simmering point. Cool. Stir in juice and zest and bottle in clean, sterilised glass bottles. It lasts for months (technically) 🙂
The other thing we heaps of are eggs…we only have 5 chickens – but when you get 5 eggs a day, things can get out of hand fast! Stay tuned 🙂