Summer’s arrived in Victoria and oranges like Valencia are coming into season. What better time to share a citrus gardening tale with a twist from blogger and Friend of OGV, Kerrie Maloney?
From Gloom to Boom
This is a tale that almost every gardener can relate to. In my case it was the death of a much admired and well-established feature of my garden. A wall of espaliered apples, Red and Golden Delicious planted along the western fence line, screening both the fence and to some extent the neighbouring property. Who knows why they died – it could have been root damage caused by the redevelopment of the neighbours’ land, or a disease of some sort, but out they came along with all the posts and wires that they were espaliered to. It was a very sad time for the garden.
We left the area unplanted for a few months whilst we thought about what to replant and waited for the bare root season. This time was not wasted and we used it as an opportunity to improve the soil; green crops were grown and dug back in, compost added, lots of well-rotted manure dug in, and the watering system reworked. Everything was ready to replant. We also took this as an opportunity to replace the fence.
We also had two limes that were in pots and, to my mind, struggling. We thought that perhaps we should plant a small citrus grove and that the limes would be the starting point, one each end and plantings in between. We selected a grapefruit, a navel orange and a tangelo to fill in the gaps.
A couple of years on and the citrus have really taken off. In fact the limes are too bountiful, so we are considering replacing one with another orange, probably a Valencia to extend our season. There have been so many oranges that we have not had to buy any for months.
The citrus seem to flourish with all the western sun and the fence line is now screened. As we removed the espalier framework and the limes were too big to espalier, we made the decision to plant them quite close together and let them follow their natural shape knowing that they would need to be trimmed. They have been planted in a relatively narrow garden bed, and we do not want them to encroach on the pathway. We really have gone from gloom to boom!
With all this bounty my freshly squeezed morning juice has been a treat. The rinds have also been put to good use in marmalade or citrus chutney or pickle. When the tangelos are in season, I make my favourite Sweet Orange, Tangelo and Mandarin Marmalade.
My primary use for citrus rinds , however, is as a base for a citrus syrup or cordial.
My recipe for Simple Citrus Syrup
For this recipe I do not use grapefruit, I find them too bitter. Orange, tangelo and mandarin peel is my favourite; lemon and lime is also great or any combination of them.
Cut the rinds into quarters or eights, place in a large bowl. I use a five litre plastic container that has a lid as this stacks in the fridge more efficiently.
Add 1 cup of sugar and stir around. Place in the fridge. Continue to add the rinds for a week or so.
The remaining juice and oils of the citrus dissolve the sugar and you end up with a cup of delicious syrup that can be used as a cordial, delicious and very refreshing with sparkling water, drizzled over a plain cake or added to fresh fruits to give them a bit of a zing.
Add a tablespoon of the syrup to cream along with the zest of an orange or lemon and whip for a change to vanilla and sugar.
Strain the syrup into a sterilised jar and store in the fridge. Discard the rinds or use them to make a batch of marmalade or chutney.
How’s that for a yummy ending? The perfect tangy treat after a hot day in the garden! Be sure to check out more of Kerrie’s recipes and other uses for citrus on her blog, kerriemaloney.blogspot.com.au and on Instagram @kerriemaloney.