In all seriousness, I’ve never in my life seen so many lemons and limes all in one place. At my sister’s property Melross, in Kangaroo Valley, this weekend, we picked boxes and boxes of citrus, and still at the end of the weekend the trees were heavy with fruit. To be honest my darling father did the best part of the job (on top of sorting lemons, limes, ruby grapefruit and lemonade limes into boxes). I’ve put a box outside my apartment building with a “please squeeze me” note for passers by, but still we each have at least a couple of boxes each to get through.
So today I’m making spiced lemon pickle, spicy and astringent and perfect with grilled meats.
Spiced lemon pickle
You can use limes when they are plentiful in place of the lemons. After about four weeks the pickle will be ready to eat – soft, mellow and a beautiful colour. Stored in a cool, dark place, this pickle will keep indefinitely.1 tablespoon allspice berries 2 teaspoons cardamom seeds 1 teaspoon coriander seeds zest and juice of 1 kg lemons 2 large or 4 small green chillies, seeded and finely chopped 60 g fresh green ginger, peeled and grated 500 g white onions, halved and thinly sliced 2½ cups white wine vinegar 3 cups sugar
1. Wrap the three spices in a piece of muslin and tie with kitchen string to secure. Place the rest of the ingredients except the sugar in a ceramic or stainless steel bowl and leave overnight.
2. Next day, tip the ingredients into a non-aluminium saucepan and gently simmer until the lemon slices are tender, about 1½ hours. Remove the spice bag, add the sugar and stir until dissolved. Boil over high heat 20 minutes, then spoon into hot sterilised jars and seal. Label and leave for at least a month before eating.
Meanwhile, when not citrus picking and just reading the newspapers on the deck – we all four-wheel drove up the Kangaroo Valley escarpment and lit a tiny fire for billy tea among the gum trees in the winter sun. All serenity until some guys came along on their bikes. But to be honest if you’re a boy with a bike this might just be paradise, and my sister and I secretly wanted a ride anyway.