Having come to Australia around 4 million years ago from their origins in the foothills of the Himalayan mountains, citrus trees have become a staple of the quintessential Aussie garden, and whether it’s orange, grapefruit, mandarin, cumquat, lime, native lime, or the humble lemon, you’d be hard-pushed to drive down a suburban street and not see at least one tree proudly centred in the front lawn.
There’s usually a time around late winter/early spring where you’ll start seeing lemons everywhere: a bowl at the op-shop counter, a tub at the library, a washing basket in the office tea-room, a box on the neighbour’s nature strip. It’s a sign that citrus season is upon us and it’s time to pull out all the recipes you can so you can catch and store all that lovely energy from the sun to use throughout the year. There are SO many great things you can do with citrus:
As if lemon’s aren’t sour enough…
This homemade cordial recipe is simple to make, and has a wonderful tartness to it that you just don’t get in commercially bought cordials. This comes from the citric and tartaric acid, which act as both preserving agents and souring factors. Tartaric acid has become increasingly difficult to source since the prime Aussie merchant McKenzie’s stopped supplying the two major supermarket chains, but you can still find it at IGA and Foodworks supermarkets. Alternatively, if you live close to a winemaking or brewing shop, you’re likely to find it there, as it’s an ingredient used in making some fermented alcoholic drinks. If you simply can’t get your hands on any, just replace it with the same amount of citric acid.
Our homemade cordial is shelf-stable for at least a couple of years if it’s prepared and stored properly, so make use of your winter harvest and put up a good supply to see you through the summer! To store preserves properly, it’s imperative to get your head around sterilising jars and bottles. It’s not hard, so don’t worry!
The Urban Nanna’s Citrus Homemade Cordial
Makes roughly 3x 700ml wine bottles worth
6-8 well-washed lemons or other citrus fruit (enough to yield 1cup/250ml juice)
2kg white sugar
15g citric acid
15g tartaric acid
Rind/zest of 2 lemons, in strips or grated
- Peel all citrus and put aside zest
- Squeeze and strain citrus juice. Put aside
- Dissolve sugar in water on medium heat
- Boil gently until liquid has turned clear
- Take off the heat
- Add acids and stir to dissolve
- Add juice. Stir well
- Take bottles out of oven and divide a bit of citrus rind evenly amongst them. Freeze or dry the rest
- Pour cordial into sterilised bottles and seal while hot
Once cooled, give each bottle a good shake to mix the zest in properly, then store in a cool dark spot. Even once opened, this homemade cordial doesn’t need to live in the fridge – in fact it tends to crystalise and becomes impossible to get out of the bottle if you try!
So there you have it: simple citrus homemade cordial. A perfect longterm solution for excess citrus, and a brilliant way to catch and store energy to enjoy throughout the year. Try it with some soda water for a homemade soft-drink; make icy poles out of diluted cordial; mix the best G&Ts in town by adding a dash at the end; and be sure to pop aside a couple of bottles for the festive season – you’ll be delighted all over again as the weather really starts to heat up!
Here are some more ideas for using up a glut of citrus….