By: Blonde Two
My cousin and I were chatting at the weekend about my first visit to New Zealand when I was sweet innocent eighteen year old Blonde Two. One of the things that we could both remember clearly was my reaction as I drove up Aunty and Norm’s drive and saw oranges and lemons growing on trees. To me, they just looked really silly, like someone had come along and carefully balanced them in the branches. I guess even then, my blondeness was starting to show through.
In more recent years, the citrus trees have become a source of much enjoyment for me. A particular favourite is a mandarin tree that was planted for my Nan outside her back door – imagine the treat of being able to get out of bed and pull a juicy mandarin off a tree for your breakfast. There are grapefruits, oranges, limes and lots of lemons here – enough vitamin C in fact, to stave off bird flu, monkey flu and maybe even man flu for a few years (not sure about the man flu, that is a really serious condition even here in New Zealand).
This year, I decided to make the most of the lemons – I usually have plenty in my evening gin and tonic but I wanted to create with them. As we have just been given some delicious (and irresistible) homemade lemon curd, I opted for traditional lemonade. It was surprisingly easy to make – the juice and zest of 8 lemons (I got fed up and stopped zesting after 6) and 1.5 cups each of sugar and water. You boil up the sugar and water for five minutes, let in cool and then add the lemon juice and zest.
The result, once you have let it cool is a delicious cordial to which you can add still or fizzy water. It is a bit too sweet but really good on a sunny day with lots of ice. Luckily, we have had quite a few sunny days so far. I am planning to make another batch with fresh ginger grated into it soon.
Citrus over here is not always as it might seem, sometimes the lovely yellow fruit are limes not lemons and the grapefruit may well look like oranges. The possums don’t seem to mind what colour the fruit is, however, and have been munching a fair few lemons and lots of Nan’s mandarins. They never seem to want a whole one and annoyingly take a few bits and leave them on the floor.
I also found this rather odd character on one of the trees this morning – I wanted to call it an Ugli Fruit but I know that is something else. We picked it and chopped in half, it looked like a lime but tasted rather bitter – ugly fruit, ugly taste!