citrus

Lime Cordial

This is the last citrus post for a while. I promise. And yes, it’s another drink!

Lime cordial is a favourite around here. My husband loves a long cold cordial on a hot day so making lime cordial seemed like a good thing to do with all those limes.

I did a little googling and most recipes appeared to be quite similar so I decided to create my own version using ingredients and equipment I had on hand. In order to make juicing easier I boiled the limes for a couple of minutes, if you have a microwave you could give them a quick zap, as heating them releases all that lovely juice.

juiced

Ingredients:

  • 10 limes
  • 4 cups water
  • 6 cups sugar
  • 1 tbsp citric acid

Method:

  1. Zest a couple of the limes.
  2. Juice the limes.
  3. Bring water to the boil with the lime zest.
  4. Add sugar and citric acid to boiling water.
  5. Stir until dissolved. Boil for about 3 minutes then remove from heat.
  6. Add lime juice and bring the cordial back to the boil and simmer gently for a couple of minutes.
  7. Remove from the heat and leave to cool.
  8. Pour into sterile bottles.

This makes a lovely fresh cordial, both cloudy and syrupy. If cloudy is not your thing you can strain the cordial before bottling using a fine sieve or muslin but I am quite content with a cloudy cordial. You can of course adjust the amount of sugar etc but remember sugar acts as the preservative here so yes, a lot is necessary (the upside being when you make it yourself you realise just how much sugar is in it and hopefully will serve accordingly!).

limecordial

And yes, these are limes not lemons! They ripened on the tree in the sun so they are a wonderful yellow-lime green colour rather than the green limes you find in the supermarket which were picked unripe and ripened with gas after being stored for who knows how long (ugh). As you can see from the label it’s taken me a while to get this post up but the lovely hot weather over the weekend had my husband cracking open a bottle and it was delicious! I just had to share it with you.

Preserved Lemons

One of the easiest ways to use up a glut of lemons is to make- preserved lemons! Who’d thunk it!

Preserved Lemons

Preserved lemons are used in a lot of North African and Indian cooking. The have an intense lemony flavour and though the flesh can be used in sauces etc it is really the peel you are after. So how to make them? Well you simply wash your lemons and quarter them. Layer the lemon quarters in a sterile jar with lots of salt (don’t use salt with iodine as it inhibits fermentation), pushing down to release the lemon juice. Fill the jar with lemons and salt, you can also add black peppercorns and bay leaves for extra flavour, making sure they are packed in tightly (without air bubbles like the large one you can see in my photo- eek!). If the lemons are not covered by their own salty juices you can add a little brine (salt water) to ensure they are covered. Screw on a lid and leave at room temperature to ferment. That’s it!

Leave for at least four weeks, the lemons will soften and the flavour will intensify over this time. When you’re ready to use them rinse the lemons, discard the flesh or reserve for a sauce or dressing, trim any white pith from the peel and slice finely. Delicious in so many recipes!

EDIT: If you are having trouble getting your lemons to stay under the juice/brine rustle up one of those little table-like plastic stands that are used to stop take-away pizza from sticking to the pizza box lid. Put the flat surface down on top of your lemons then screw on the lid. The lid will push on the little ‘legs’ and force the lemons under the liquid and keep them there! Simple but effective!

Marmalade

Of course you can’t deal with a citrus glut without making marmalade. It’s the perfect way to use up citrus fruit whilst also preserving them. I turned to ‘Pam the Jam’, author of the River Cottage Preserves handbook, for a couple of worthy recipes.

citrus

I decided to make a standard Orange Marmalade using Naval & Blood Oranges, and a Lemon & Honey Marmalade. I’d never seen a lemon marmalade before and I can imagine using it to top a cake as well as on your standard toast. Honey is expensive so I just used the most basic cheap honey I could find. I only needed one cup for the recipe so it wasn’t too indulgent. I made both marmalades using the whole fruit method, though I cheated a little and sliced the fruit using my food processor and then boiled it using my pressure cooker, so it was a much faster process than the recipe suggested.

freshly filled

Orange Marmalade

I’ve been collecting jars lately and I really love these ball mason jars. They are just so pretty and practical! Can you see the difference in colour between the Orange Marmalade above and the Lemon & Honey Marmalade below?

Lemon Marmalade

Limoncello

So another cheeky citrus recipe I pulled out of my hat was limoncello. I use lemons, their juice and their zest, all the time. I probably wouldn’t make something like limoncello if we weren’t drowning in lemons as there are so many other ways to use them up. But I’m glad I did.

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Limoncello is delicious and quite versatile. I love to sip on it, or pour it over ice-cream. It can be quite expensive to buy so if you are a fan it’s worth making yourself.

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Like cumquat brandy the recipe is quite simple- peel the zest from your lemons, add sugar (I used about a cup for a 1 litre bottle), and top up with alcohol. I used vodka as it was easier to find than grain alcohol (ethanol) and the decision to make limoncello was a spur of the moment thing. If you want to stick with tradition seek out the grain alcohol but don’t expect it to be easy to find! Shake each day for the first week to dissolve the sugar, then once a week after that for two weeks, then store. Strain the zest out before serving.

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I look forward to trying the traditional recipe next winter! Have you made limoncello and if so, what alcohol did you use?

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Cumquat Brandy

Have you ever seen a cumquat? They’re not all that common but they are a beautiful plant to have in the garden. The little golden fruit hang like baubles on a Christmas tree. They’re so pretty I have been known to snip off a small branch and place it in a vase in the house. In China the trees are decorated for Lunar New Year and often given as gifts.

We recently returned home from a weekend at my parent’s house with a basketful of cumquats. What to do? Cumquats are unique amongst citrus in that the peel is sweet and the most palatable part of the fruit, the flesh being much too tart to eat without the peel. I wanted to do something special with the fruit but due to its size I didn’t want to do anything too fiddly. Cumquats are generally eaten whole, the peel counteracting the sour flesh, or just the peel is eaten. I decided to do something where the fruit remained whole- less work for me!

Cumquat brandy was the answer. I had some brandy sitting in the liquor cabinet, leftover from last year’s Christmas cake, and plenty of sugar in the pantry. That’s all you need! You wash and dry the cumquats, prick them a couple of times with a darning needle and place in a sterile jar or bottle. Add sugar (I used a little over 2 cups for a litre bottle), then fill the bottle with brandy.

wash and dry

prick

sugar

brandy

bottle

close up

horizontal bottle

You need to shake the bottle every day for week, then once a week after that for a fortnight, to dissolve the sugar. Then you can let it sit (out of sunlight) for a couple of months to allow the flavours to develop. You can strain the cumquats from the brandy and serve as a dessert, dipped in dark chocolate would be delish! And of course you are left with an amazing syrupy cumquat brandy!

Have you ever tried cumquat brandy? Or do you have a favourite homemade liqueur?

Family Visit & Citrus

I have been very busy of late, so busy in fact I’ve had little time to contribute to this blog. A (temporary) full-time job and a toddler has left me worn out and craving an escape. So escape we did!

For my recent birthday weekend my husband, daughter, and I piled into our old vehicle and drove up the coast to stay at my parent’s house for the weekend. It was so nice to get out of Sydney, like they say, a change is a good as a holiday and a change of scenery for 24 hours was just what we needed.

Snow drop

The highlight for me was just walking around the garden with my daughter. She carried a little basket and collected things. We stopped and smelled every flower, looked at every bird, chased each other, and just generally enjoyed the peace and fresh air.

Willa and basket

Willa, Wazza, and Uncle

Being Winter my parent’s garden was full of citrus fruit and before we left we picked a bag each of tangelos, naval oranges, blood oranges, lemons, limes, and a little basketful of cumquats. The task took rather longer than expected as each piece of fruit was picked, handed to little Willa Rose, who then placed it carefully in the bag or basket. The extra time was worth it to see her pride in a job well done, and laugh at her feigned exhaustion if she was asked to carry more than one piece of fruit at a time.

Over the next few posts I’ll share what I did with our massive citrus haul. How do you deal with a citrus glut?

Citrus Cleaner

One great way to simplify and save money is by making your own cleaners. Bicarb, vinegar etc are great however sometimes you want that little bit of extra grunt, and a lovely natural scent wouldn’t go astray either. That’s where this citrus cleaner comes in.

This is not something I’d buy citrus fruit specifically for, rather it’s really a frugal way to use every last bit of the fruit you can. My parents have an orchard so when I go up to visit them I often return with a load of citrus. We’re talking lemons, limes, navel oranges, blood oranges, tangelos, the list goes on and on. When we’re sick of eating them plain and baking them in cakes I will juice a whole bunch. Before juicing I peel the fruit with a vegetable peeler (I don’t want the thick layer of pith you get when peeling by hand) then immerse the rinds in a jar 3/4 full of plain vinegar. This simple concoction infuses for about 2 weeks and is then ready to use after being strained and diluted 50:50 with plain vinegar. The citrus oils smell amazing and have fantastic cleaning powers. It’s an effective all purpose cleaner that allows you to clean your home without chemicals and it’s oh so cheap!