Time to con­tem­plate your navel

Food blog­gers Sammy and Bella, win­ners of My Kitchen Rules, share how to get the most out of your cit­rus this win­ter

Stanthorpe Border Post - - LIFE -

SOUTH-East Asian cook­ing just wouldn’t be the same with­out fresh lime juice, and some of our favourite cock­tails would suf­fer greatly. We couldn’t have that.

Many peo­ple as­so­ci­ate cit­rus fruits with sum­mer, and even though most va­ri­eties are avail­able all year round, they are har­vested and at their peak in win­ter.

LEMON: Eureka and lis­bon va­ri­eties are avail­able all year round, at their peak from June to Au­gust. Use zest to flavour cakes and bis­cuits, or add a fresh touch to a braise with an Ital­ian gre­mo­lata – crush 1 large clove of gar­lic, zest of 1 lemon, and 1 bunch of finely chopped flat leaf pars­ley. Sprin­kle over Mediter­ranean flavoured braises. For the best qual­ity peel, lemons should be un­waxed and the eas­i­est way to get these is to grow your own. Lemon trees are fairly hardy in frost-free cli­mates. Meyer lemons have a much shorter sea­son in win­ter, they are sweeter and less acidic than other va­ri­eties and are bet­ter used for their juice than peel.

LIME: The most com­mon va­ri­ety avail­able in su­per­mar­kets is the tahi­tian lime, which has a short har­vest sea­son in late au­tumn to early win­ter. They are es­sen­tial in South-East Asian and Mex­i­can cook­ing and go es­pe­cially well with a cock­tail or a cold beer. That be­ing said, limes are avail­able all year round but they do get ex­pen- sive, es­pe­cially for the small amount of juice yielded. Get the best bang for your buck by us­ing the zest as well as the juice. To get more juice out of your limes, (zest first, then) zap them in the mi­crowave for 30 sec­onds. This breaks down the cell walls that hold the pock­ets of juice, which al­lows the lime to re­lease more liq­uid when juic­ing. OR­ANGE: Un­like some other fruits, or­anges won’t con­tinue to ripen once picked, so for the best flavour make sure you buy fruit that feels heavy for its size and has no green­ish tinge on the skin. Navels are first to be har­vested around June, while va­len­cias and blood or­anges are ready in Septem­ber.

CUMQUAT: A very easy fruit to grow at home, they are much hardier than other cit­rus va­ri­eties and can with­stand a de­cent amount of frost. You can make use of its in­tense flavour by us­ing the juice, zest or en­tire fruit. They orig­i­nated in China and the lo­cals of­ten salt pre­serve them. They are tra­di­tion­ally used as a sore throat rem­edy, but we love us­ing them in savoury dishes.

Top tip: Try mash­ing and adding to salad dress­ings, adding to tagines or stuff­ing into a whole fish and roast­ing. Of course, they are fan­tas­tic served sweet in cakes, jams, chut­neys and glaceed, but we think our grandpa has the best idea. He makes home­made cumquat liqueur.

MAN­DARIN: Har­vested from April on­wards, these are a school lunch box favourite, as they are so easy to peel and are full of sweet juice that kids adore. The dried peel is com­monly used in Chi­nese medicine and we love adding it to smok­ing mixes for salmon or duck. In fact, man­darin goes very well with many duck as well as pork dishes.

GRAPE­FRUIT: Some peo­ple don’t like grape­fruit, pos­si­bly be­cause they were scarred by eat­ing the overly bit­ter and sour marsh va­ri­ety as chil­dren. Our mum used to cut these in half and sprin­kle with brown sugar, which made them more palat­able for us kids. These days, the pink (aka ruby red) va­ri­ety is more read­ily avail­able (har­vested in April-May), and it’s got just enough sweet­ness that you don’t need to add any sugar. It’s ab­so­lutely de­li­cious in sal­ads. You can seg­ment the flesh and then squeeze the leftover pith to make an amaz­ing salad dress­ing.

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