Saturday, January 25, 2014

In praise of Cyprus fruit and vegetables

I could undoubtedly save a great deal of time if I ignored the local fruit stall, and if I was prepared to buy ready-made chutney, ketchup, lemon squash or orange juice. Actually we do buy ready-made lemon squash (for Richard) in the summer when lemons are out of season, and we do buy long-life grape and pineapple juice in packets.

Lemons started re-appearing in the shops in November, I suppose, but my memories of spending hours peeling/juicing lemons in previous years made me reluctant to start that again. I've been getting quite bad backache when I spend too long standing in the kitchen... however, for once my procrastination bore fruit (so to speak) since Richard and Tim - the ones who actually drink home-made lemon squash - offered to deal with them this year.

So about three weeks ago, we bought around 100 lemons (for three euros or so) - not organic, but unwaxed and locally grown.  They spent a couple of evenings washing, peeling and juicing them, producing a batch of lemon squash (three litres), four litres of pure juice plus peeled zest for the freezer for future batches, and about 72 lemon cubes (in ice cube trays) for quick additions to various recipes, or to make hot honey and lemon.

After a couple of weeks we were just thinking we might repeat the process when a local friend called by with two large bags full of lemons, freshly picked from his abundant tree. Here's the contents of one of the bags:

The first bag made another batch of squash, and another litre for the future, and another 24 lemon cubes. The second is still to be dealt with. 

On Friday we bought a crate of oranges - about 80 of them, I suppose - for an extravagant four euros, but they are very nice oranges. There's really nothing like freshly-squeezed orange juice, so I make some every morning. That takes between five and eight oranges for three of us, depending on the size of orange. Quite a few... so 80 last at most ten days. I put as many as I could in the fridge, as they won't necessarily keep for long out in the kitchen - here are the ones I could not fit in: 

And then, there's tomatoes. History repeats itself - just over two years ago I wrote about processing vast quantities of tomatoes to freeze, and to make ketchup and chutney and so on.  Last weekend I bought and used quite a few, making more ketchup and chutney, but who could resist a large crate for just two euros, at the stall yesterday? We certainly couldn't. They looked beautifully ripe; it's hard to tell the size from this photo, but I suppose each one is about 5-6cm (2.5-3 inches) in diameter. 

I was on vegetable duty for our house group last night so I made some baked tomatoes, and also sliced several for one of the children who likes them raw only, sprinkled with garlic and basil. I then put as many as I could fit into a large bowl in the fridge, which left just this many, on a tray:

This morning I cut up about 25 of them for the dehydrator, and they're now nearly dried. I put another couple of kilograms in a saucepan to stew gently, prior to making tomato soup tomorrow. Then I managed to fit the last few, somehow, into the fridge. I'm not entirely sure what I'll do with them - probably I'll stew most of them to freeze in 400g portions, as that's what I use for any recipe that calls for canned tomatoes (which I don't use any more).

Except that our freezers - both the top of the fridge and the main upright freezer - are already rather bulging at the seams, and I already have at least five or six tubs of frozen tomatoes...

It would undoubtedly save time if I could resist these bargains - I didn't even mention the smaller crates of carrots and broccoli that I also bought - but I'm sure it saves money, and is a great deal healthier to use fresh, locally grown produce such as these.

(Although, given my current hacking cough, at the end of a cold that has lasted quite a while, it's a little ironic to think of being 'healthy'!)

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