I finally did it, I bought an orange tree.
No, not an actual orange tree to grow here. It is an orange tree on a small, organic, family farm in Spain. An example of crowdfarming. Although we are pretty much OK for fruit over the winter – we rely on our stored cooking apples, bottled apple juice and frozen soft fruit from the garden before the glorious rhubarb season starts in March/April – sometimes I hanker after freshly picked, sunny fruit.
So the thing is, you buy the tree (and every year you pay a maintenance fee) and the people at naranjas del carmen look after it for you. Between January and May you can request the harvest from your tree which is guaranteed to be at least 80kg. When you request the oranges they pick them and send them to you (you have to pay postage). Super fresh, organic, delicious oranges straight from the tree, supporting small-scale farming and bypassing big business – what’s not to like?
My first two boxes (30kg) came last week. Since then I have been eating a lot of oranges, but 80kg is a lot to get through so I am going to have to get creative – so expect a lot of orange-related recipes here over the next couple of months!
Nigel Slater has a recipe for hollandaise with a little orange zest in it. I thought, why not go on step further and use freshly squeezed orange juice in place of the more usual lemon juice. So I did, and it worked. We had the hollandaise spooned over freshly picked white sprouting broccoli and a bubble and squeak made from mashed potato and leeks. I made my hollandaise with duck eggs as we have a lot of these at the moment, but you could use chicken eggs.
Orange Hollandaise: 2 egg yolks, 140g butter, zest of an orange, freshly squeezed orange juice from an orange, seasoning.
Melt the butter. Put the egg yolks in a glass bowl and place above a pan with a little simmering water in it (bowl shouldn’t touch the water) with a splash of water and whisk. Gradually add in the melted butter and keep whisking. The sauce will gradually thicken. When it is thick enough – bit thicker than single cream – add the zest and then some orange juice to taste. The sauce will stay OK for a while sitting in the bowl over the hot water (off the heat) with an occasional whisk.
N.B. If you look closely you can see where the evil pigeons nibbled the leaves of my broccoli before I covered them up again – the broccoli not the pigeons!
N.B. We eat the frozen strawberries first, then the raspberries and then the currants – we have our favourites!
N.B. My tree will be planted in June. Obviously as it hasn’t been planted yet, the oranges I am getting for this year (and presumably for a few more years) will come from a different tree.
N.B. This post is for my lovely friends in Putney who sent me home with some of their oranges which finally convinced me to make the jump ….. I am a slow adopter of new things at times!