It’s that time of year in Australia, when people with lemon trees are making lemon marmalade, lemon cordial, lemon tarts, hot honey and lemon drinks, using lemon in their salad dressing. Lemon, lemon, lemon, lemon. Yum!
We only moved in to our current house a few months back and it has a lemon tree. It’s this funny looking tree, all bent over and propped up with posts. It’s tied onto the fence in a number of places to keep it standing. But man, is it laden with lemons. It’s the first time I’ve ever lived anywhere with a lemon tree so I’ve been expanding my lemon recipe range.
This week I used Stephanie Alexander’s newish book “A Kitchen Garden Companion” to help me preserve some of our lemons. For overseas readers, I’m not sure if you would have heard of Stephanie. She’s quite famous in Australia as both a chef and a cookbook author. She started the very popular vegetable garden in schools program across the country. Anyway, “A Kitchen Garden Companion” is a fantastic book. It’s an enormous A to Z of fruit and vegetables, both growing and cooking them. From the section on lemons I made Preserved Lemons and Lemon and Date Chutney. I’ve never made either recipe before. And, yes, I know I’m a bit late to the Preserved Lemon scene, everyone else has been making them for years but hey, I’m excited, it’s my first lemon harvest! So, I’m really looking forward to trying both of the recipes once they’ve finished “curing”. For the bits of chutney I sneaked while making it, the lemon and date chutney is delicious and is likely to become a chutney staple in our house. Unfortunately, I can’t post the recipes because I made them just like the original recipes. But preserved lemon recipes are everywhere across the web – for example the recipe here is pretty close to the one in The Companion but Stephanie suggests cutting her lemons fully into quarters. Not traditional but easier to pack.
Now that I have some readers I have a question you might be able to help me with. Do you know how long I can expect the lemons to last on the tree before they get over ripe/rot? I’m really enjoying my lemon preserving frenzy but I’d hate to use them all up before I had to and then have to buy lemons for the standard day-to-day stuff that I use lemons for. So knowing when I need to use them up by would be very helpful for planning my lemon use strategy.
Oh and if anyone can point me in the direction of recipes you like that use preserved lemons. That would be great.