My morning ritual for many years during the water restrictions was to bucket water to our small citrus grove of Navel, Washington and Blood Oranges, Honey Murcott Mandarins, Tahitian and Kaffir Limes and Myer Lemons. At ten litres a time and a minimum of 60 litres per tree, it seemed like a never ending and fruitless task. The summers were fierce and unrelenting, multiple days of 38 - 42 degrees and hot north winds that would take your breath away and burn your nostrils. It was disheartening watching vegetables wither and die within hours. Not because they lacked water.They just couldn't take up the water quickly enough to replace the transpiration of water through their leaves.
By the fourth tree, while my arm wearied and shoulder ached, the citrus gods and gardens spirits spurred me to nurture the fruit trees, to dream of the glorious bounty to come and to experience the flavour, colour and scent of citrus blossom, marmalades, fresh juice, cordials, orange mustard fruits, crepe suzette sauce, orange and poppy seed cake, preserved lemons and limes and all of my other favourite citrus recipes. I pushed through the pain, wiped the sweat from my brow and often doubted nature's wisdom. While the citrus gods and gardens spirits sustained me and my belief that the drought would end someday with the eventual return of seasonal rain patterns, I never imaged the joy in sharing the fresh fruit and preserves that are in themselves the fruit of abundant rain.
Abundant rain this year has resulted in a absolute bumper crop of limes. I'll capture the colour and vibrancy of the winter harvest by preserving limes as a concentrated cordial to quench a summer's thirst. This recipe makes litres of lime cordial in less than 2 hours and is refreshingly simple to make. To make limonade, pour lime cordial to taste over shaved ice or ice cubes, top with soda water and garnish with freshly sliced orange, lemon or lime or mint.
Preparation time: 30 minutes plus I hour standing time for mixture
Cooking time: 30 minutes
Quantity: 1.75 litres
½ litre strained lime juice
½ of limes zested
1 kg white sugar
5 g citric acid
750 ml water
- Wash the fruit and grate the rind from half of the limes.
- Squeeze the juice from all the fruit and strain through a strainer. Discard the pips, flesh and juiced lime shells.
- Mix the grated rind, lime juice, sugar, citric acid and water together.
- Let the mixture stand for I hour, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar and to extract the oil from the rind which will impart additional flavour.
- Strain the mixture again through a fine strainer to remove the rind.
- Use a funnel to pour into dry sterilised screw cap sealable bottles, fill to approximately 2.5cm (I inch) from the top of the bottle and seal.
- Place bottles in a large pot and cover with water.
- Bring water to the boil over medium heat and simmer for 30 minutes.
- Sterilise bottles and lids
- Store cordial in a cool dark place for longer term storage.
- Open bottles should be stored in the fridge.
- Steps 7 and 8 can be eliminated if the cordial is to be used for immediate consumption or if the cordial will be stored in the fridge.
- Any other citrus fruits or combination can be substituted for the limes. Variations and combinations I’ve made from this basic recipe include Lime, Mandarin, Blood Orange, Orange, Grapefruit and Lemon ‘n’ Lime, ( 50% lemon, 50% lime) Tutti Frutti (70% orange, 20% lemon & 10% grapefruit).