This is a delicious, quick and simple recipe for when you have a glut of lemons …
A glut of lemons
Sunshine in a jar
Peas, herbs, seeds & goats cheese
You will need:
3 medium lemons – preferably home grown, organic or chemical free
3 tablespoons of salt
3 tablespoons of white sugar
¼ cup good quality white vinegar
¾ cup of olive oil – it is not necessary to buy top of the range extra virgin, first press etc
Several small wide-mouthed jars
I like to sterilize my jars by filling them with boiling water. Leave them for 5 minutes before pouring out the water and drying them in the oven .
Wash the lemons and slice them as thinly as possible, discarding the pithy ends. I used a mini mandolin with the thinnest insert, which gave me slices about 1-2 mm thick. Slice the lemon slices in half to make them easier to fit into your jars, and remove all pips.
Mix the other ingredients together and warm slightly either in a microwave or saucepan to help the sugar and salt dissolve.
Pack the jars full of lemon slices, and then pour the warm olive oil mixture into the jars, filling them right to the top. Close the lids tightly and invert. Leave the jars on your sink drainer (just in case they leak) and over the next 48 hours rotate them three or four times to cure and circulate the oil mixture.
Place the jars in the fridge, where they will keep for about a month – unless you eat them first!
- After a week or so, the lemon softens and loses its sharpness, and I have even eaten slices from the jar.
- Use to garnish steamed fish, or pop in some slices if you are cooking fish in parchment paper.
- Because there is oil, lemon and vinegar in the mix, it is essentially a simple dressing, so I have used it to dress a small side salad. You might need to add a little more lemon juice or vinegar. My latest creation being baby peas, with home grown herbs, nuts and seeds and goats’ cheese.
- I found that two of my large home-grown lemons and ¾ cup of oil filled two of the squat 250ml jars that are so common nowadays.
Here’s what you do when your town goes into a soft-lockdown and you have a list of home maintenance jobs that you really don’t want to do. Find an excuse to do something else …
I challenged myself to make a Bower Box using only treasures found in my garden, and not to buy anything specifically for the project, although I admit to one cheat, the wooden jewellery box which I had already purchased for another project. The idea came from a wooden gift box of gourmet goodies sent to me by my neighbours as a thank-you. I just couldn’t bear to throw it away. The blue paint came from a left over can in the garage and the lichen came from trees in the garden.
Inspiration came from one of my favourite books, Sibella Court’s “Bowerbird”.
(bowerbird –noun informal, mainly Australian a person who collects miscellaneous objects – that’s me!)
Gathering bits and pieces
Faux or real?
A favourite read
I’ve never understood why it’s so hard to find a dead cicada on the ground when thousands of them hatch each year. Surely they can’t all be eaten by birds? Anyway, after much scratching around over several cicada seasons, I’ve managed to find and identify five species. Maybe this year will bring me a Greengrocer to complete the collection. I’m almost looking forward to Cicada Season. Maybe not?
Five species found in my garden
Space for a Greengrocer
The pigeon skull came from a brown cuckoo-dove which flew into a window and was thankfully killed instantly. The rat perished after becoming stuck in a wall cavity. Both were buried in my compost bin, where the worms and bugs went to work. They didn’t quite finish the job, so I had to complete the gruesome task.
Vintage papers & cuckoo-dove
I wanted to include two nests in my display. One of the nests fell out of a tree on a windy day, the other is a fake. Can you tell which one?
Pick the fake
Nest with Rose robin feathers
We will be under lockdown for another week, so I’m looking for another excuse NOT to clean my windows.
Burnt Citrus Syrup Recipe
(this is a delayed gratification recipe!)
It’s citrus time again. When friends and neighbours chase you down the street almost begging you to take their home grown lemons, limes, oranges, or kumquats. The trouble is of course, that EVERYBODY has citrus at the same time!
So here’s something you can do with all that citrus …
You will need
- a selection of sweet and sour citrus – orange, mandarin, kumquat, grapefruit, blood orange, lime etc – this is a great way to use up ugly, misshapen or blemished citrus. The more variety the better, but not too much sweet fruit.
- a selection of herbs and spices, for example – coriander seeds, rosemary, cinnamon sticks, black peppercorns, cloves (not too many), star anise (ditto). Pick three or four of your favourites.
- one or two large wide mouthed jars (eg Fowlers or Mason preserving jars)
- optional – 1 tsp of Citric Acid for each jar – to help preserve the fruit
- 1-2 litres of sugar syrup – see below
- a selection of attractive glass bottles for the final product
Step 1 -Burn your Citrus
- wash the fruit, chop it into chunks and pile it on to some baking paper in a large roasting pan. Sprinkle over the herbs and spices.
- Slow roast it in the oven at 130C (260F) for four to five hours. It will look a bit like a baking disaster but never fear, it’s all good.
Step 2 – Preserve your citrus
While the citrus is in the oven get your sugar syrup ready and sterilise your jars – this can be left until the last 30 minutes of cooking time.
- Sterilise your preserving jars with boiling water. Be scrupulous.
- Make enough sugar syrup to fill the jars and cover the burnt citrus. There are plenty of recipes for sugar syrup on the internet. I used two parts sugar to one part water dissolved over low heat. If you use a strong sugar syrup, you can always add a little boiling water to the jar if you run a bit short of sugar syrup. Warm the syrup when you are ready to fill the jars.
Step 3 – Bottle and wait …
- Split the citrus pieces, spices and herbs roughly evenly into the sterilised jars. Fill the jars to around two thirds.
- If using, add ½ tsp each of Citric Acid for each jar to help preserve the fruit.
- Fill the jars with warm sugar syrup and seal.
- Wait for at least one month. This is the hardest part.
- Remove the citrus pieces (I throw them on my compost heap) and pour the syrup (which will have turned orange) through a strainer into a jug. Then into sterilised glass bottles.
Note: this makes a very sweet, unctuous syrup which can be diluted. Prolong the life of the syrup by storing it in the fridge. If you are scrupulous with sterilising, the syrup will last for several years – I am still using my 2018 vintage!
Uses: pour on ice-cream, make mocktails, or dilute with soda or tonic water.
COVID-19 Update: For the past couple of months, we have all been busy Isolation Baking, trying out new recipes or re-visiting old ones. As I was lucky enough to be offered several kilograms of Davidson’s Plums, I decided to revisit the recipe I posted in 2012, update it a bit and repost. So here it is …
The summer after I moved to my new house I was excited to discover a mature Davidson’s Plum tree at the back of the property. I was excited for two reasons. Firstly it seems that neither bats nor birds are attracted to the fruit, and secondly and very conveniently the fruit drops when ripe and all you have to do is pick it up. I placed some weed mat under the tree to stop the fallen fruit rolling away into the undergrowth, but I missed some and now have several small trees growing around the base.
Baby Davidson’s Plum trees
Second batch needed pectin
Jam jars ready to be sterilized
On the stove top
Plums on the tree
Davidson’s Plum fruit and jam are becoming more readily available, and can be found in some gourmet and “bush tucker”stores if you don’t want to wait the 4-5 years for your tree to fruit. I have a Davidsonia jerseyana – which is native to the sub-tropical rain forests of Northern New South Wales. The fruit of this tree is extremely tart and only the very brave would attempt to eat it raw. If you can eat a lemon, you could probably cope with a Davidson’s Plum! It also has 100 times the Vitamin C found in oranges.
It’s very low in pectin so if you want to make a nice thick jam you’ll need to add some. Rather than add the commercial stuff, I experimented with green apples. My recipe Davidson’s Plum Jam works quite well and the resulting jam has a tangy/sweet taste which goes particularly well with toasted macadamia and fruit bread from Bellingen’s Hearthfire Bakery