Sustainable Organic Gardening

Crazy for lemons

Abundant Lemons

Having followed a simple care routine for your citrus trees, you should be reaping citrus in abundance now. But what to do with them all?

Harvesting and storage is easy. I make sure that I harvest any fruit when it’s dry – hard when it seems like it rains most of the time. Lemons and limes should be picked 2 weeks before required as they become much easier to juice after this time. Use secateurs to cut citrus from the tree, turning them upside down; trim close to the ‘button’ as leaving a sharp stalk causes damage to the skins of nearby fruit in storage, causing rot. If you intend to store lemons for long periods they should be picked just as they are turning yellow, wrapped loosely in paper and stored in an open cardboard box in a cool, dark, well-aired place.

We love sharing our harvests with family and friends but I also preserve abundance in a variety of ways. With lemons and limes I often store the juice by placing it in ice block trays in the freezer. Once frozen, I remove the blocks and store in a sealed plastic bag back in the freezer. Preserving lemons in brine is also a great way to keep your harvest. Follow this fool proof recipe and use the bounty in great tasting dishes. You can substitute limes for lemons if you wish.

Preserved Lemons

Preserved Lemons

  • 1 cup of coarse sea salt
  • Lemon juice
  • Enough freshly picked lemons or limes to fill your jar

Wash and dry the fruit and cut each one into quarters, nearly all the way to the base but keeping the fruit intact. Pack each fruit with one heaped tablespoon of sea salt and push fruit down hard, until the juice runs, into a large sterilised jar with a lid. Then cover the fruit with extra juice and sprinkle with some extra salt.

TIP: Make sure you choose a jar that your hand fits into easily. Seal the jar and leave for at least six weeks. You can add cloves, chilli, or any other whole spice you like to flavour the lemon.

The lemons/limes are ready for use when the skin is tender. Lemon or limes will keep at least 6 months but should be refrigerated after opening. To use, remove a fruit from the brine, discard any seeds or pith, finely chop the rind.

Simple ways of using preserved lemon are:

  • One or two pieces of preserved chopped fruit stirred into yogurt makes a great sauce for fish or lamb
  • Thinly sliced pieces of preserved lemon added to your homemade tabouli
  • Add slices to olive oil, crushed garlic, finely chopped chilli and flat leaf parsley and shake to make a great salad dressing. I love this mix on hot, cooked waxy potatoes! Yum!

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