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A Glut of Limes and Lemons

I use lemons more than any other flavour in my food. Their juice provides a gentle acid balance, neither too biting nor too fragrant, that brightens a dish, while the zest delivers depth and a piquant flavour.

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All my friends on the mountain know how much I use citrus in the cooking school and they give me all their excess. Lemon trees are one of the quintessential items of the Aussie back yard! I love lemon trees with a history, my friend Jim’s tree was transplanted from the local Catholic Church and the lemons are enormous! Another friend Norma tells me what she proudly uses each of her six trees for different uses – lemon meringue pie, lemon curd, marmalade, lemon cordial, preserved lemons and one for seafood. There is also one that the fruit looks good, but is flavourless, but she keeps it as it has the most fragrant heady smelling blossoms and it attracts the bees.

Lemons are in season for most of the year, with a downtime in the late summer and early autumn. I grow eureka for an early-season lemon and the soft-skinned Meyer for harvest through to early summer. Lemons like a warm, sunny spot in the garden and prefer free-draining soil. They require regular watering and a good soaking every couple of days during hot, dry spells. If growing in pots they will need watering every day through summer. A layer of compost can help keep the soil moist, but be careful not to let the compost touch the trunk of the tree. Lemons are also prolific feeders and respond well to a generous application of citrus food in spring and autumn and a handful of whatever other manure I am weekly digging in or spreading around the veggie garden. I am lucky to have Frank across the road that has a horse that I can get a couple of bags of horse poo each week.

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Lemons and limes brighten my kitchen they look fabulous piled high in my blue salad bowl and my red cake stand. Lemon is one of the most versatile flavours and enhances sweet and savoury dishes. Lemon zest – the outer, coloured skin of the fruit – contains the fruit’s aromatic oils, which to my mind encapsulates the essence of the fruit. Be careful when grating a lemon to only use the yellow part – the white pith is very bitter and will spoil your dish. I use lemon zest throughout my savoury cooking to give a neutral freshness. Citrus-based dressings are always refreshing, and a clean, lemony flavour is a perfect foil to sweet, creamy desserts.

I freeze all the juice of the excess lemons and limes to make cordial for the guests at the cooking school. Its equal parts by volume of water, juice and sugar. Heat it enough to dissolve the sugar, add some optional ginger or mint, then cool, strain and bottle. Keep it in the fridge.

November 18, 2016 / Uncategorized / thechef