LEMON TREE, VERY PRETTY..
As the old song goes......"But the fruit of the poor lemon...Is impossible to eat."
In fact, when you have a tree which is so enormous and bears as abundantly as the one behind our shed, you just have to make the most of them. They are Bush lemons and are not really pretty. They are rough skinned, knobbly and misshapen, although the skins are usually bright and clean. They are there in their hundreds and thousands through the Autumn, Winter and early Spring. Unfortunately just about the time one's thoughts are turning to refreshing lemonade and tangy summer dishes, there is not a lemon to be seen!
So this is the time of year we use them and enjoy them.
I have been making Bush Lemon Jelly.
You take some lemons, and chop them roughly - into quarters will do.
You put them, skin and seeds and all, into a big pan with 1 1/2 to 2 cups of water per lemon, depending on the size.
Then you boil the whole lot merrily away until only about half the liquid is left.
Then you strain it. Whether you use a fine muslin, or just a colander or slotted spoon is up to you and how fussy you are.
Now you measure out a cup of sugar for every cup of juice, and boil away again until it jells, which doesn't take very long. Now you just bottle and seal.
Voila - Bush Lemon Jelly, which is wonderful for all sorts of dishes that need lemon flavouring, marinades, stir fries (like sweet and sour), or on cakes, scones and toast!
Now I was so pleased with the results, and with the easy measurements for the quantities, that I adapted the recipe for some Mandarin Jelly from our very sour, but prolifically-bearing Mandarin/Cumquat tree. I added some Passionfruit towards the end to make it even more flavoursome.
Then I decided I may as well use the same techniques and measurements for some Marmalade. I made a Four Fruits one using Grapefruit, Lemons, Oranges and Mandarins (and I do believe I even added a couple of Edie Mack's limes also!)
Next I made a more chunky one from mainly just Oranges and Lemons. I had some of Bene Summerscales lovely Navel oranges, but because they are seedless, I needed to the lemon seed and juice to increase the pectin content.
I produced at least 40 jars of jelly. It was all very satisfying, and I could have gone on boiling away merrily for days. I had visions to jars and jars to give away to friends and family, to put on stalls, to sell at our Spring Fair, to use for presents.
Then the other day I decided to give the pantry a bit of a clean-out, partly with the idea of making room for more jars of marmalade.
It was long overdue, and I found myself turning out lots of jars of old preserves, jams and jellies which were long out of date, unrecognisable, candied, mouldy, turned to syrup and toffee. They were the forgotten relics of past over-ambitious marathon efforts in the kitchen, bent over the preserving pan!
Will I never learn??