Leave it on the tree! Lemons, oranges, mandarins and cumquats all store quite well just left on the tree. Limes don’t store so well. In fact, if your oranges or mandarins are a bit sour, leave them on the tree a bit longer and they will probably sweeten up.
Make sure it’s dry: if picking fruit to give to friends or bring inside, make sure the fruit skin is dry. Any leftover moisture on fruit can quickly turn into mould. Make sure fruit is fully dry. Lay them out on paper towels or tea towels in a warm spot for an hour or two, so the fruit is dry.
Use the fridge: lemons, oranges and limes will keep for a number of weeks in the crisper section of your refrigerator, but do check them from time to time, to make sure there are none going ‘off’, which might affect the others.
Excess juice tip – freeze it into cubes: If you have a bumper crop of lemons or other citrus, harvest the fruit, squeeze it, then pour the juice into ice-cube trays. Extra ice-cube trays are sold in some supermarkets and hardware stores, so buy a couple more and keep the fresh juice on ice.
Kaffir lime leaves
Kaffir lime leaves freeze really well, and for months. So, if you buy a punnet or tray of kaffir limes at your local greengrocer, don’t throw away the ones you don’t use. Instead, put them into a plastic container (eg, Tupperware) and put this in the freezer. The next time you need kaffir lime leaves for your Thai cooking, just take as many out of the freezer as you need (usually it’s just one or two). They thaw out in just a few seconds and are ready to use almost immediately. I find they last for months in the freezer, without any loss of flavour or colour.
Lemon Delicious Pudding
185g (3/4 cup) caster sugar
3 eggs, separated into yolks and whites in separate bowls
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon rind
40g (1/3 cup) self-raising flour, sifted
60mL (1/4 cup) lemon juice
185mL (3/4 cup) milk (full cream)
Extras you’ll need
1-litre ovenproof dish
baking dish to hold the ovenproof dish
extra melted butter to line inside of ovenproof dish
boiling water (see step 4)
1. Preheat your oven to 180°C, then grease a deep, 1-litre ovenproof dish with some melted butter.
2. In a bowl, beat together the butter, sugar, egg yolks and lemon rind until well combined, light and fluffy. Add the self-raising flour and stir until combined. Then stir in the lemon juice and milk.
3. Beat the egg whites in a bowl until stiff peaks form. Gently fold the egg whites into the other mixture (from step 2).
4. Spoon all this into the 1-litre ovenproof dish, then put the dish into the baking dish. Now, carefully pour some boiling water from a kettle into the baking dish, so it comes about halfway up the side of the ovenproof dish. Bake for 35 minutes, until golden brown on top. You can dust it with icing sugar if you like. There will be a light sponge on top and delicious lemon sauce underneath. Ice-cream on the side is often popular, but others like some pouring cream instead. Your call!
Cover several perfect, unblemished lemons with warm tap water and leave to soak in the water for 2 days. Change the water after the first day. Then, cut the lemons almost into quarters, lengthways, but leave at least 1cm attached at the base so they still stay together. Fill each cut lemon with one and a half tablespoons of fine sea salt, re-shape each fruit into a whole lemon and pack into a sterilised preserving jar. Sprinkle some more salt between the lemons, but do try to pack as many lemons as possible into the jar. Top the jar with lemon juice, seal, and store in a cool, dark place for six weeks, turning the jars over every week or so. To use, rinse each lemon under cold water, discard the flesh and slice or dice the rind as desired.
Preserved lemons are a classic ingredient with North African tagines, but you can try adding them to any dish based on fish or chicken.
Tip: once a jar of lemons is opened, it must be refrigerated and used within 2-3 weeks. If a white film appears, simply rinse it off when using the lemons.
2 cups citrus fruit*, washed and sliced
2 cups water
juice of 1 lemon
2 cups sugar
* cumquats and sour Seville oranges are ideal for making marmalade
1. Wash and slice the fruit finely and remove seeds (but don’t throw the seeds away).
2. Place the fruit in a large saucepan, cover with water and soak overnight (or for around 8 hours). Put the seeds in a separate container (such as a cup) and soak in a small amount of boiling water. Leave overnight.
3. Next day strain the liquid from the seeds. Discard the seeds and add the water to the fruit. Cook gently on a low heat until the fruit is tender and the liquid is reduced by half.
4. Add the sugar and lemon juice. When all the sugar has dissolved, turn up the heat and boil rapidly until the mixture jells (around 30-45 minutes). Tip: stir often, or the marmalade will burn!
5. To test if the marmalade is jelling, spoon a little onto a cold saucer. If a skin forms, and it glazes on the surface and wrinkles when touched, it is ready. If it is still runny, boil for a little longer and test again.
6. Pour into hot sterilised jars and seal.