My apologies for many of you who have commented on my blog this past month – including numerous posts about different citrus fruits which I seem to find myself awash in at this time of year. In addition to coming up with ways to deal with oranges, madarins, lemons and pomelos that grow in the garden, I have been very busy with events, activities and a little bit of travel. As a consequence, I have been pushed to simply keep up with writing and have neglected to respond to many of your comments, let alone read other posts from my favourite bloggers. I hope to put some of that right by addressing a number of those remarks in this IMK post. Mea culpa.
The weather, at long last, has turned colder here in Athens, but the vigorous lemon tree at the edge of the house’s garden continues to flourish. It is actually grafted onto a bitter orange which is more resistant to cooler climates. Earlier last month, I dealt with a crate of lemons that arrived in the kitchen, producing salted preserved lemons, lemon juice and zest for freezing, lemon curd and lemoncello (which is almost ready to decant). Many of you offered great suggestions on further uses for lemons including lemon chutney and lemon marmalade (Francesca @ Almost Italian), lemon pickles (Glenda @ Passion Fruit Garden), lemon infused sugar (Clara @ Heritage Recipe Box), lemon cordial/syrup (Sandra @ Please Pass the Recipe). I will definitely be scouring your blogs for recipes! I also thought to make my own lemon salt and pepper condiment (as suggested by Hilda @ Along the Grapevine) by infusing Himalayan salt and cracked black pepper with partly dried lemon zest, stored in a pepper grinder. The method I used was similar to how I made Sale Aromatico, a herb infused sea salt. And, to answer Mary’s (@ A Wondering Minstrel I) questions, yes, the fresh juice and zest are frozen, and it is the lemon peel (not the juice) that infuses the olive oil when making lemon scented oil.
Citrus curds have been on my mind lately, having made a LOT of the substance in the past month. I was fascinated to learn from many of you “down under” that an old term for lemon curd was lemon butter, similar, in a way, to the old British term, lemon cheese.
Much of this citrus curd I have made has converted into ice creams to serve at dinners and other events. My favourite so far is the mandarin-orange combination, which I blogged about. Both fruits came from the garden. It made a brillant and very creamy ice cream, flecked with tiny flecks of orange zest and given a little zing with a tablespoon or two of Cointreau in the mix. By the way, Francesca, I think your mango and passionfruit curd would make a fantastic ice cream. But, then, I am a tiny bit obsessed with ice creams at the moment.
Bitter oranges – called nerantzia here or botanically Citrus aurantium – are the most prominent citrus tree in the garden. But you’ll hear more about these in a post later in the month. In addition to marmalade, the rind of this citrus is perfect for candying. The process is easy, but somwhat time consuming. The juice, which is not needed for this recipe makes a great curd.
Candied Citrus Peel
- 4 bitter (Seville) oranges
- plenty of water for boiling
- 150ml water (for final syrup making)
- 250g sugar
First, cut the rind (with the white pith attached) of the oranges into strips. Place in a pot of cold water and bring to a vigorous boil for 10 minutes. Drain and discard the water. Repeat this process two more times. Next, place back in the pot with the 150ml of water and the sugar. Simmer on low for one hour. The liquid will almost have evaporated. Using tongs, take the strips out and line them up on a rack to cool and the syrup to become crystallised, about 6 hours (or overnight).
These citrus candies are great on their own, but they become luxurious when covered in dark chocolate – ignoring the fact that they look like chocolate slugs when laid out to dry. I find a bag or box of these chocolate covered candied peels make wonderful gifts. Of course, they also make a nice statement decorating a scoop of citrus ice cream.
The pomelos (locally known as frapa) were trickier to find uses for, but I am particularly gateful to Sandra @ Please Pass the Recipe for her comments on the uses of pomelo in sweet-sour South East Asian cuisine. I will also be on the lookout on Hilda’s (@ Along the Grapevine) blog for her use of pomelo as she somehow manages to make inventive use of the most unlikely foraged items.
The mandarins were short lived. Plus between the birds and my own harvesting, the crop has been now been depleted. However, the sweet and bitter oranges, pomelos and lemons will persist for a few more months, so more citrus delights to be made in this kitchen. Intrigued to learn what has been happening in other IMK bloggers’ kitchens.