A fruit tree in every backyard

A couple of weeks ago TV One’s Seven Sharp did a news story about free fruit. With “free” in the subject line, those frugally inclined are likely to remember it. It was about a very nice “mad fruit lady” from Auckland who drives the suburbs in search of fruit going to waste. Lemons were her specialty, probably because there is so much one can do with a lemon, but more on that later.


It turns out there was much more to the story than one person’s crusade and their passion for lemons. Behind it all is quite an organisation called Community Fruit Harvesting. They have 12 groups around the country. There are 200 volunteer pickers in Auckland alone, and a team of 45 jam and marmalade makers. There’s also a team of lemon squeezers who make lemonade.


According to the group’s Facebook page, their mission is to share our neighbourhood’s harvest of fruit with the community – especially those in need. It’s all about communities helping each other. What a great initiative.


So give them a call if you have fruit going to waste, or if you have some spare time to help with the fruit picking or making the marmalade or cordials.


We think it’s a great idea and we think the oily rag community can help out in another way – here’s how: plant at least one fruit tree in your own back yard! It really is as simple as that. In no time at all you will have heaps of fruit for you, your friends and family – and if there’s some left over, for the community. What a great way to give annually with little or no imposition on your wallet. That really is living and giving off the smell of an oily rag.


We are pleased to say there are a number of groups that fundraise and do all sorts of activities to plant trees on public land. Let’s take that good initiative into back yards. There are literally thousands of quarter acre sections that could be home to at least one fruit tree! So think about that next time you are mowing your lawns.


While on the subject of lemons here are some kitchen tips and recipes.


• Lemon barley drink. For a great and cheap thirst quencher, make big batches of lemon barley water. Boil 1 tbsp pearl barley in 1 1/2 litres of water. Strain and add the juice of two lemons along with 1/2 cup honey or sugar. Cool before drinking.


• Make a lemon butter sauce by adding 115 g of melted butter to 1 1/2 tbsp of lemon juice. Add a touch of pepper to taste. Stir together and pour over cooked vegetables (delicious with broccoli or asparagus).


• Add a little lemon juice to your fruit drinks to improve the flavour. It will also enhance the flavour of banana, fruit mince, apple, blackberry, pineapple and other pie fillings.


• An average-sized lemon contains about three tablespoons of juice (compared to the average orange which has about five tablespoons of juice).


• A squeeze of lemon added to frying mushrooms will bring out the flavour.


• When boiling whole cabbage, onion or cauliflower, add a squeeze of lemon to remove the unpleasant smell.


• Before roasting chicken, rub lemon juice on the skin; it will make it nice and crisp.


• When frying fish, add a teaspoon of lemon juice to the fat in the pan to improve the taste, and it will make the flesh a nice white colour.


• When poaching eggs, add a drop of lemon juice to keep the egg firm.


• To make lemon pudding you will need 1 tbsp of butter, 1 tbsp of flour, 1/2 cup sugar, 1 cup milk, 2 separated eggs, the juice of 2 lemons and 1 grated lemon rind. Cream butter and sugar, stir in egg yolks and flour, then add milk, lemon juice and rind. Beat egg whites until stiff and fold in. Transfer to a greased baking dish and sit in a larger pan in hot water. Bake for 45 minutes at 160 C.


Don’t forget to send your money-saving tips to us so we can share them with others.i