Saturday, July 28, 2007
When life gives you lemons...
... make lemonade, lemon bars, and lemon meringue pie.
In Sacramento, it's criminal not to grow citrus. Despite touchy frosts and occasional freezes, we can walk out front or back and pluck oranges, lemons, kumquats, mandarins and other citrus fruits right off the tree most months of the year. That's one of the wonderful things about living here.
In my early twenties as a renter, I was able to pick grapefruits off a large tree from the roof of my Victorian four-plex apartment in midtown Sacramento. Pretty cool. I envied my aunt Eileen for her spectacular mature Washington navel tree that came with her cute bungalow in east Sacramento. Those were the hugest, sweetest oranges... mere steps from her kitchen.
In my late twenties, my husband and I bought our first house, also a little bungalow in east Sacramento... that came with a mature Meyer lemon tree. Meyer lemons can be used like grocery store lemons (Eureka, Lisbon, etc.) but they have a sweetness and unique fragrance that builds nostalgic loyalty. Lemon bars are great, but have you ever had a Meyer lemon bar? Heaven.
I hated selling our little house when we outgrew it, but I mostly hated losing that tree. Anyone buying a house with mature citrus trees is very lucky. A few years ago, I planted several dwarf citrus trees from Four Winds, hoping to have pluckable citrus sometime in the future. I finally do, or I'm about to. My Eureka lemon is so far the most robust tree and it's covered with egg-sized fruits. Ok, so it's not the Meyer, but I'm not complaining. The Meyer I planted in the ground here bit the dust and its replacement is getting established in a half-barrel. I'm also raising orange trees, a kumquat, a lime, and an indiomandarinquat. They're still in that awkward teenage stage.
Will I be in this house long enough to see all my citrus trees mature? Who knows? If not, at least someone else will inherit mature citrus like I did in my first house. For now, though, I'm looking forward to making lemonade and lemon bars... soon. I guess I didn't have to wait too long. Just a few birthdays.