On a comfortable breezy evening,
my mum converses with her sister via Skype
exchanging quirky tales
They broach the subject of her lemon tree.
"It's the most peculiar case;
it was growing so divinely
until, suddenly, it stopped."
Silence. Then the punchline:
"Reminded me of your daughter."
They exchange hoots of laughter
Meanwhile, I sit in the corner
arms folded, eyebrows knitted
As the youngest of five children, I was often the recipient of hoots of laughter from the others and was a tad famous in the family for my scowl (not surprisingly I add, I was hard pressed!)...also, lemons ARE a bit of feature around here just now...
We met my nephew Andrew a couple of weeks ago in town and he kindly sent us to his place to pick a few of his lovely large (Lisbon or Eureka) lemons as he said his tree was loaded.
Our lemons are very small by comparison and are a variety called Meyer (the tree was a gift), which is a bit more hardy for growing here in Southern Tasmania. Meyer lemons are far less astringent than other varieties, being a cross between lemons and oranges...after Andrew's gift I suggested to Tim that he should relieve our little tree of a few of this winter's crop as I needed to restock the marmalade shelf...I got a surprise when he brought into the kitchen rather a large haul...the poor little tree has certainly excelled itself this year...and I malign it for it's lack of acidity!
Tim had to assist me with the pip segregation as I can't stand for hours over these types of chores. The little lemons have rather an abundance of pip which I normally am not too fussed about, but I don't like the way they go dark brown when cooked in marmalade and never soften and disappear however much one wishes they would.
I followed a recipe for this one as I hadn't made a lemon marmalade for many years, but wished I hadn't as it included far too much water and took too long to boil away to setting point which makes the end result darker in colour than I was wishing for. Also, I ended up adding a pile of crystallised ginger from the pantry as well, as I was a little worried that the lemons would not have enough flavour on their own, besides, ginger is (almost) always a good addition. Still it worked out ok in the end and the preserves shelf looks quite healthy once again. It has a lovely peppery warmth from the ginger.
Last night, with great difficulty because I can't find the jelly bag I made years ago, we finally got the hot pulpy liquid into a large square of linen I save for these sorts of emergencies, tied it to the upturned rungs of one of the kitchen stools placed on the bench and left it to drip away overnight into my huge stainless steel bowl which just fitted, with the help of a small chopping board, to fit between the metal legs of the stool.
This morning Chris and I measured off the collected lemon scented thick liquid, eight cups in all, while Tim went to the supermarket to buy extra sugar...an hours simmering and the result is a lovely amber coloured and deliciously flavoured lemon jelly.
At one point I had decided that I would simply make a lemon syrup, good for making a hot toddy over winter, or for stirring into hot water with a spoonful of honey for an incipient sore throat. The mixture however, was so pectin-rich that it started to jell even before it came to the boil, so I let it simmer on for a few minutes. Lemon jelly it is.
I usually pot my jams before they cool down at all. I am a disgrace to the preserving arts and the CWA because I rarely ever skim my jams before potting them up, as I hate wasting so much of the precious stuff.
Potting while still very hot ensures any jammy froth rises to the top of the jar anyway, rather than mixing through the jam.
On tasting the jelly, I think it is acid enough and has enough bitterness to make this an acceptable accompaniment to roast lamb, especially if I infused a nice pile of rosemary into the mixture before adding the sugar, and maybe reducing the quantity of sugar a tad, as I used to do with crab apple jelly, back in the day when I had crab apples...I might have to send Tim out again to see how many more lemons are left on the tree, he said it was still loaded...
Another thought I had when I tasted the jelly, was a heaped spoonful in a demitasse cup with a tablespoon or so of Glenfiddich and topped up with boiling water might be quite nice...might cure what ails one during these long winter evenings...mmm, I will let you know, I just have to find a bottle of Glenfiddich to try it out!
Better trot, feeling a tad squeezed out, besides my neck really complains if i sit too long at the computer these days AND I have a little journal to put together, so bye bye,