recipes

Citron

Lemon and Walnut Loaf

It’s a quick stride from the kitchen door and an easy scramble over the aging side fence into our neighbour’s backyard to collect an apron or shirt-full of fresh lemons. An errand that appeals and is never met with a long sigh from the nominated individual that a requested visit to the washing line or rubbish bins would generally elicit. This welcome task usually includes a friendly greeting from the resident terrier and a chance to observe first-hand, territory normally restricted to retrieving over zealously kicked balls or delivery of messages. The object of the assignment, a rangy old lemon tree (similar vintage to its owners), provides an abundance of lemons, far more than the senior couple who planted it or their fortunate neighbours could ever consume in a season.

With no end to the uses of lemons in our kitchen, visits to this tree are regular. The lemons that arrive home are not the waxy, uniformly shaped specimens that are available year round in our local supermarket, but rather ones that are pitted, marked and are regularly accompanied by a partial branch (depending on the harvester’s age) and some bird ‘matter’. However, following a quick scrub, they zest and grate like billy-o, and juice like the Watsons (whoever they may be).

Crisp, sunny Melbourne winter days, are well paired with tangy lemon loaves and hot coffee. Should you spy a laden citrus in your district, use this as an opportunity to pay a visit and make your introductions. In my experience, lemon tree owners are generous folk who are always looking for homes for their crops. Make it your business to bake two of these Lemon and Walnut loaves and return one to the citrus producer. A sure guarantee of friendship – and lemons for life.

1 1/2 cups plain flour
1 cup caster sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
125g butter, chopped
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup milk
grated rind of a lemon
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius and grease and line a loaf tin.
  2. Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt into a bow.
  3. Rub in the butter.
  4. Combine the eggs and milk and stir them into the flour mixture.
  5. Fold in the lemon rind and walnuts.
  6. Spoon into the tin and bake for 60-70 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the loaf comes out clean.
  7. Ice with and icing sugar and lemon juice mix.

This really is a loaf rather than a fine cake, so is best served and eaten on the day.

Backyard lemons

Postscript: and if you have never smelt a citrus blossom or broken a leaf and inhaled, I suggest you do so at your next opportunity.

recipes

Tangelo

Tangelos

Making their brief seasonal appearance as we speak, the impossibly orange tangelo is ready to fill your kitchen with citrusy overtones and your empty jars with delicious jam.

I’m sure it is no coincidence that citrus fruit peaks in mid-winter, its colour pop and tang bolsters us through the insipid range of coolstore/gas ripened produce alternatives. Tangelos make a huge effort – juice laden and vibrant, a bowlful in the kitchen veritably radiates goodwill.

My pantry shelves did not require further stocking, but with such enticing colour and shape, I could not resist purchasing a couple of kilos of these lads. With an interstate road trip imminent and a number of pressing household issues to deal with, they really had to jam themselves. Fortunately they cooperated, so the holiday hosts, the neighbourhood and the pantry shelves all have jars of sunshine to see them through winter.

Tangelo jam

Tangelos are still catching my eye at the local fruiterer, so it’s not too late to wash out those stored jars and boil up a pot for yourself. Not as bitter as marmalade, but far from the syrupy sweet berry preserves, tangelo jam sits brightly in between.

1.5 kg tangelos (about 8 or 9)
3 litres (12 cups) water
1 tbsp tartaric acid (cream of tartar)
2 lemons halved
1.4 kg sugar, or the same weight of liquid to sugar
1 packet of Jamsetta (optional – I always keep one on hand in case jam is not setting. Simply stir a sachet through the mix and boil)

  1. Remove the zest (picture below) from the tangelos using a zester, and wrap in muslin cloth or a clean chux cloth.
  2. Cut the tangelos into quarters and process in a food processor until finely chopped – a little roughly if you like chunky jam.
  3. Place tangelo mixture into a saucepan, with the wrapped zest, water, cream of tartar and lemons. Cook for 30 minutes or until zest is soft. Remove zest from bag and set aside.
  4. Continue to cook the mixture for a further 1 1/2 hours. Strain mixture and reserve liquid.
  5. Return liquid to the heat and add the zest and sugar. Cook the jam for 40 – 50 minutes.
  6. Test for setting by spooning a little on a chilled saucer – it should wrinkle if set.
  7. Pour into sterilized jars and seal.

zesting tangelos

Postscript: do invest in a zester – it makes short work of tangelo rind (which is crucial when you have a car to pack, a house to close down and a 9 hour drive on the horizon….)