Processing the lemon harvest

29 August 2009
I didn't get around to my tomatoes yesterday, there were too many other things happening. One of them may be of interest to you - I processed four buckets full of lemons. Our lemon tree is a Eureka. It flowers almost all year but we harvest the main crop in late winter. The fruit is a true lemon flavour, not as mild as the Meyer lemon and not as tart as the bush lemon. All the fruit hold a good amount of juice.

The problem with harvesting four buckets of lemons is that some of them will go off before they're used, so I juice all the lemons in one big juicing session and freeze what I don't use straight away.

Being a late Winter harvest, it makes perfect sense to me to make lemon cordial with some of the juice. I love to offer home made drinks to our visitors. Lemon cordial is the quickest and easiest to make and during summer, I always have either home made lemon cordial or ginger beer in the fridge. Most people love being offer an old fashioned drink, icy cold from the fridge with ice cubes clinking.

Just a word on the storage bottles. If you're storing this in the freezer, use plastic bottles as the juice will expand a bit when it freezes. You can use glass bottles for the cordial itself because that is stored in the fridge.

can be made with any fruit juice, including lemon, orange, raspberry, strawberry, pineapple or passionfruit, or anything else that takes your fancy.

Make up a simple sugar syrup - this is generally half water mixed with half sugar. So if you want to make two cups of syrup, you'd mix one cup of water with one cup of sugar. You can make a lighter syrup by adding more water, say one and a half cups of water to one cup of sugar.

Heat the sugar and water on the stove to dissolve the sugar crystals, then cool.

To make the cordial, add equal parts syrup to juice. You do this by half filling a bottle with juice, then topping it up with syrup. That cordial is stored in the fridge.

To make a glass of cordial, pour in about three tablespoons of cordial (test taste, you might need more or less) into a glass and fill it up right to the top with iced water and some ice cubes. A sprig of mint or pineapple sage in the drink is a nice touch.

It took me about half an hour to juice all the lemons. I have a juicing attachment on my food processor so it doesn't take long at all. That half hour of work gave us 12 litres (3½ gallons) of pure lemon juice for the freezer and three bottles of lemon cordial for the fridge.

I took my first glass of new season lemon cordial out to the veranda to relax and enjoy the warm late Winter day. Half an hour of knitting out there and I was ready for the next task.

I hope to take my tomato photos today so I'll write about that in my next post. Thank you for your comments this week. I love seeing all the new names in the comments, but I miss my old readers. Please say hello if you have the time. I know it's pointless commenting all the time, but I'd like to know you're still there. :- )


  1. I'm still here! I have been busy with summertime and the start of our school year. Little time for commenting.

    I have a recipe for fresh limeade that sounds almost exactly like your lemon cordial one. Very yummy, and definitely refreshing!

  2. Hi Rhonda Jean,
    I have not left a comment in such a long time, but I LOVE to read daily. Thank you for sharing your life with us. You are a dear!!

    Don't know if you remember, but I had asked you a while back about having chickens with dogs. We have 4 big dogs that stay inside, but when we are outside...they are outside with us. Well...we ended up having a nice chicken coop built and have 4 hens. We LOVE having chickens and getting our own eggs. The dogs have adjusted great!!!

    I wish you a blessed day and hugs to your Alice.


  3. Hello, dear. I am still here too! I visit about every couple of days. I enjoy hearing & learning things that you do in Australia.
    Take care & I do still enjoy your blog.

  4. Love the idea of making homemade drinks. Approximately how long will the cordial last in the fridge?

  5. Still here and still loving what you share!! I am making cordial today too, your recipe of course :o)

  6. So envious of your lemons... no such thing here in UK!! Will have a go though, as love home made cordial. We have raspberries galore... might try with those. Thanks for the tip!

  7. Hi Rhonda, I'm still here and reading your blog is part of my evening. A chat to my daughters and granddaughter on Skype and then 'down to earth' before I go to bed.
    Your lemon cordial looks yummy and has inspired me to have a go.
    Have a good weekend.


  8. I always love to see what you will share next. Lemon cordial sounds divine! I have never really had anything with cordial in the name but it kinda reminds me of Anne of Green Gables. When Anne and her friend got into the cherry cordial, and got a little tipsy. Love that movie.

  9. Still here Rhonda, read everyday. I rarely comment though.
    Thanks for all the great info and wisdom that you share.

    cheers Kate/Lenny

  10. Hello Rhonda,
    I'm waving!
    Happy, peaceful weekend to you.

  11. (I read all your updates, but I very rarely comment... mostly, just because I guess I'm too lazy!) All those lemons, what a happy kind of day you must've had! We lived in Arizona for a year, and the lemons there were sometimes the size of TWO fists!!!

  12. I'm just stopping in to say Hi!

    Another great post, and very interesting to read about your lemons, even if I haven't a hope of growing them here! I don't think they would appreciate our climate, although I think that some people have some success growing them under cover here. My husband made some excellent juice drinks from redcurrants, though, one year.

    I'm desperately waiting for some eggs to hatch in my incubator so that is the excitement around here this week.


  13. Hi Rhonda,
    I don't think I'm an old reader but not a new one either, I'm always reading and comment sporadically. Your cordial sounds lovely.

  14. Sounds lovely! I've been spending the day with my boys and canning. I'm pickling beets, zucchinis, and beans today. A batch of strawberry jam from the berries we picked yesterday is also cooling on the counter. It is so nice to have a garden this year and the most wonderful organic farm just up the road for all the things I don't grow.

  15. I ducked in here(the"workroom") to check my reader while the washing machine churns...and am reminded that, besides a huge bag of grapefruit from a friend, I have a Meyer bending double under its fruit.I've made some marmalade, but don't have time for more.Looks like it's freezer time...

  16. Yay! Look at all these lovely ladies - all old friends. Thank you for saying hello. It's good to know you're all still there. It's a bit weird sometimes writing about our lives and not knowing who is reading. When I see familiar names it reassures me there are good people in the world and many people who share our values. Hugs to all of you.

    Cathy, I saw a photo of your dogs. They are BIG! It's great to read you've got hens now and that the dogs are fine with them.

    Sharon, the sugar in the cordial helps preserve the drink. It will last a minimum of two to three months in a cold fridge.

    Ladybird world mother, I am going to make raspberry cordial during our summer, from frozen raspberries we have left over from the wedding. Raspberry cordial is an excellent tonic for all birds, and chooks, and it is a very good drink to give children suffering from upset stomach and diarrhoea.

    Love the decor, this cordial isn't alcoholic but the ginger beer can be if left to ferment in the heat a bit too long. ;-)

    Morgan, redcurrants would make a delicious drink, so would cranberries.

    Hi Tammy James and Kate.

    Kimberly and moreidlethoughts, it's good to see others working with their produce and putting up food and drinks for later enjoyment.

  17. I'm sorry Rhonda, I've been reading but not taking the time to comment.
    And I have such great news to share with you. First being we harvested from our garden some red potato's and green beans and I added some kielbasa sausage to the pot and ate like kings.
    Second is our natural gas bill arrived and since our energy audit and paying more attention to usage we have a $169.00 credit that can either be refunded or put toward further use.
    Thank You Rhonda

  18. Hi Rhonda,

    I am still here. I have only ever posted once to which you kindly replied. I read your blog every day and have been doing so for two or three years. I have sewn two redline stitcherys using yor patterns (in blue). I also live in Qld, a suburb called Joyner, just north of Strathpine. We grow our veggies in grow bags and my girls water them every day. Keep up the good work. I'm looking forward to seeing your book when it is published. Best regards, Lucy

  19. Speaking of lemons, I made your lemon butter last night. I don't have chickens, would love to though, so I got fresh eggs from a friend of mine. I made the butter that I used. It was so good I scraped the pan and put that on some fresh bread. Ate some this morning in my oatmeal. My husband doesn't like lemons so this is all mine, except I will give the friend with the chickens a jar for the eggs.

    Thanks for the recipe. Also for the lemon cordial recipe. I have some lemons left so that sounds like something I will be making with them.

    I know you are going to write about your tomatoes next so I wanted to tell you that I also made tomato sauce today with my first big crop of tomatoes. At least the ones that the deer didn't eat. Seems to be picky though and only wants the ripe ones.

    Thanks, love reading you every day.


  20. Hi Rhonda Jean,
    I'm still religiously reading your blog. You still after all this time never fail to amaze and inspire me. Heading into spring here in NZ, my chooks have finally started laying again and we have a baby lamb bouncing around the paddock. I've started planting up seeds in the glass-house and I'm picking bunches of daffodils. Life is good.

  21. The lemon cordial sounds so good! I'll have to try it.

  22. Ah just what I needed to read, have been driving past a whole lot of miniature (?) lemon trees the last few days that are absolutely weighed down with lemons. Going to make a phone call and see if I can get my hands on some!!

  23. Still reading everyday, two years on. Thanks for your help & advice.


  24. What a great lemon harvest! We bought a Meyer lemon bush (dwarf variety) this year. So far it has doubled in size, but of course no lemons yet. It will be moved indoors this winter since I am not sure if it will survive outside. A friend brought me an orange plant from Florida and it will be moved indoors as well. Can't wait to see how they'll do next year...
    I do love your blog and I come here for inspiration often. Even found some loofah seeds and there are several growing in our garden now. Thanks for all your wonderful ideas!

  25. Rhonda,
    The lemons looked so delightful! I made your lemon butter recipe the other day and it was so good - we have been enjoying it on bagels with cream cheese, what a treat! Loved your post!

  26. Hello ladies! It's wonderful to see so many familiar names here today.

    You're doing well, Blessings. Keep up the good work.

    Hi Kim. A lamb! Nice.

  27. Hi Rhonda!

    I just put up a box of peaches and some lovely cherrries. I'll bet cherry cordial would be marvelous on a hot summer's day! Thank you for the recipe.

    Donna in CO USA

  28. Hello Rhonda, I'm still here too.

    After taking some time deciding whether to plant a meyer or eureka lemon and deciding on a meyer, for no particular reason, I now think I might change my mind. You have explained the difference between them very clearly, thank you. Those I have asked have been quite vague about this.

    Gold Coast

  29. I am still here too.Lemon is my favorite anything,you are lucky to have them.

  30. Hello Rhonda Jean. I never comment,on anyone's blog, don't know why.Just a personal feeling of "do they really want to read what I have to say",but if I had a blog I would be disappointed if all readers didn't I'm here about every 3rd day and still love reading about your life.I have my own little world here in Virginia. I think I have been a follower from the beginning. Keep up the good work. You are doing a great service to the world as a well needed teacher.

  31. I can't wait until we have enough lemons on our tree to be able to do this!

    I also freeze lemon juice in ice cube trays, so it is easy to get small amounts that I use in jam making.

  32. Hi Rhonda Jean, still here :) and enjoying your posts always!
    We make Lemon Cordial regularly now. We can't grow lemon in Canada, so wait for them to go on sale and make a batch. We love it.
    Have a wonderful weekend,

  33. Hi Rhonda, your post really made my mouth water. I love almost anything with lemons.
    I've read your posts almost every day but haven't said much. (imagine that!) It's not been the best of years so far, but that happens every now and then just to make us appreciate the good times. I have especially enjoyed going through the archived articles and have been cheered by many of them.
    Thanks for having such an enjoyable site and keep up the good work. JudieJ

  34. I have been a faithful reader for about a year and a half. Have commented some. You have simplified things that I have always wanted to do to where I have been able to learn and put into practice, such as baking bread, knitting (and now crocheting), gardening and making a point to enjoy being a good wife and mother. Circumstances aren't the best right now (our health) but you have helped me make small changes that seemed overwhelming, and be able to do them instead of wishing I had been born 100 years earlier.

    Thank you,

  35. What a great lemon harvest! My poor lemon tree (also a Eureka) is going through a bit of a sad patch, and we haven't even got one fruit on it.

    When it picks up, though, which it usually does, I can't wait to try out the lemon cordial recipe!

  36. Been reading for a year or more, I think. Today I made some tvorog (quark), courtesy of 3 litres of sour milk I received with my groceries. Some of the whey resulting is going in to the bread I'm about to bake; the rest is being frozen for later use. Then it's back to the vegie patch to put in some early beans. It's been very warm in Sydney so I'm dicing with the weather a little bit, as we generally don't plant summer veg till September. Tonight's dinner will be a quiche containing our own eggs and silver beet.

  37. Hi Rhonda. My mouth is watering just thinking of your lemon cordial. I have been thinking about putting a lemon tree in our smallish Melbourne backyard. I thought that an espaliered (sp?) version might make the most of the space we have. Thanks for the recipe. Anita. xxx

  38. Hi Rhonda,

    The lemon cordial sounds yummy. It's been warm enough here in Brisbane to make a glass of ice-cold lemon cordial sound good. I was wondering, with other fruits, that aren't so strongly flavoured, would you concentrate the juice first or just add sugar to the juice without extra water? And do you do anything with the lemon skins?

  39. I'm still reading, watching, enjoying and loving your blog and ramblings about life! thank you!

  40. HI Rhonda, I'm still here. We've had a funny old week but today has been great. I have been to a cheese making workshop and can now make ricotta, mascarpone and fetta! It was great to touch base with fellow simple lifers and to discuss the new food co-op we are soon getting!

  41. Sounds like a good harvest. I make Elderflower cordial here, and in the past have made Spruce, which is an old recipe with ginger in, and very refreshing.

  42. Hi Rhonda, i am a fairly old reader ( well over 2 years)..but have only commented a couple of times.. I read your page every day, often with a cup of coffee...i never miss..LOVE it. I am going to make some cordial today you have tempted me it sounds so nice....i will try Orange (as i have lots of them), as well as the lemon, im sure it will be so much nicer than the shop brought ones..but something i just never thought of doing until you inspired me...thank you so much for your blog...hugs from Joy

  43. Another that is still here. We've been very busy, with my partners grandmother passing away.

    But still reading up and even have a question for you - do you make preserved lemons ever? I have looked at Stephanie Alexanders' recipe, and am putting my first lemon tree in the ground as soon as the ground warms up a little!

  44. Lemon Aide is BIG here at our house too - but no lemon tree in my back yard. Not sure they would even grow here not far enough South.
    Becky in South Carolina.

  45. oh wow, I'll be juicing some lemons tomorrow for some yummy cordial

  46. Hi Rhonda Jean.
    Karen from Scotland here. still reading your blog but I try to only comment when I have something "worth saying", which isn't always!

    Feeling very jealous of your lemons - not a chance of them growing here in Scotland. In fact, not much success with anything except beetroots and potatoes this year. But we eat those by the bucket so a good harvest in that sense.

    Your blog is still the first one in my bookmarks and I read it before I go to bed each night (approx 10pm here) - it relaxes me and gives me something nice/constructive to think about.

    Thanks again,
    Karen (Scotland)

  47. Hello Rhonda,
    While I have only posted a comment a few times I have been a daily reader for quite awhile now. I thoroughly enjoy your writing.

  48. Hello Rhonda,
    I have only commented a couple of times, but would never miss a single day of reading your amazing blog. I have been reading it for about a year now! It has been inspirational in so many ways and has helped me through my day countless times as I have faced serious health issues and the mental anguish this has brought. Focusing on the joys of simple living following your wonderful example has been just what the doctor ordered for me - thank you for your constant inspiration!! Please know you are ALWAYS appreciated, even if I haven't popped out of the woodwork to say so :)
    Love and best wishes,
    Heidi, Mt Barker, South Australia xo

  49. Hi Rhonda....
    Still here even though I had fallen off the living simply wagon and only just got back on!

    Love and blessings,

  50. Hi Rhonda:) I catch up with the "goings on" a couple of times a week to just remind me of what's really important. You know, get my head on straight when ever it starts to tilt.

  51. Hi Rhonda Jean,
    I've been reading your blog for about a month now and have enjoyed going through your old posts and seeing all the wonderful pictures. Recently I have come to the realization that I do have my own form of a homestead right here in the city of Pittsburgh, PA (USA). We have a well-producing garden (given the size), compost, meals from scratch, recycle/reduce/reuse, shop from the thrift store or swap with friends for clothes, etc. More importantly, we have the mindset that goes with this type of living. My husband thinks it's crazy to call our situation a homestead since we don't live in the country on a farm, but I disagree. I think we have the best of both worlds and we are very happy. I'm looking forward to trying some of the things you talk about in your blog as I put my garden to bed for the winter and have a little more time. Thank you for the inspiration and wonderful posts! You are appriciated from all of your readers all over the world!!
    With much admiration and respect,

  52. Lemon or any type of citrus fruit don't grow here.
    I've never try making cordial but I known people to make it with different berries.

    Coffee is on.

  53. How I miss the lemon trees we had in our backyard when we lived in Arizona, USA. Now we are in the state of Virginia and fruit trees do not grow here. I'll just have to admire yours!

    Snappy Di

  54. Hi Rhonda Jean, I love reading your blog having just found it. I am slowly trying to simplify my life but it is baby steps, one at a time! Regards, Michelle.

  55. Hi Rhonda, I'm in the midst of canning tomatoes. By the way I like the new blog picture. Donna J.

  56. Hi Rhonda,

    I am still here reading and enjoying the blog. Wondering how long the cordial will keep in the refrigerator?


  57. Waving to Karen, Allison, Suzan, so many of these names are so familiar to me. Thank you for taking the time to say hello.

    Enjoy your canning, Donna.

    Elaine, the cordial will last a couple of months in the fridge.

    I love reading about your busy lives and what you're doing. It shows me we are not alone.

  58. Not sure I am an old commentor,(well I may be old..hehe)I just wanted to let you know I'm still checking in often..just don't always have time to comment. It's busy here as it's garden harvesting time and autumn is coming..some leaves are starting to change color. My garden is doing well..I will soon be making pickled beets.
    I love lemons and have not harvested as many as you did at one time but there is nothing so good as homemade fresh lemonade.
    Keep sharing are definetly an inspiration!

  59. Hi Rhonda,
    I love your new banner!
    I read your posts every morning but have been too lazy of late to tell you how much I enjoy them. You work so hard at having a simple life that you make me feel rather guilty. My vegie garden this year has been an outstanding success but it does get neglected from time to time as we have all our other macadamia farming responsibilities to attend to. As I have said on my blog, which is for my grandchildren living in France, our pride and joy this year has been our blood orange tree which has been most prolific and has wonderful juice.
    Thank you for the time you spend inspiring and motivating your simple life fellow travelers.
    Best wishes, Ann

  60. I freeze lemon juice in ice cube trays. Pop them out and store in a freezer bag. Each cube is about 1 tablespoon. Your trays may be different.

  61. Hello. Enjoy reading your posts. I always learn something.


  62. Hi Rhonda,
    This is a fantastic idea, I have so many lemons on my lemon trees, tomorrow I think we will harvest them and freeze the juice. I have a lovely lemon cordial recipe from my Mom-in-law. Have a lovely week and Happy Spring for Tuesday :)

  63. I love opening my e mail and finding a new post from you.I make a cup of tea and hope the baby will let me sit and read for a couple of minutes :) You have taught me and inspired me so much since I found your blog.I'm a stay at home mum who decided to start living more for me and my family.I was looking for ways to be more self sufficient and you help inspire me.I also have tried to remember what my gram used to do and I ask my dad how they lived when he grew up, that has also helped me.Thaks for sharing your life with us,it is very much appreciated.

  64. Hello Rhonda Jean - I read your blog regularly, but only comment occasionally.

    That cut lemon in your first photo is beautiful. There is something very pretty about a slice of citrus fruit. The climate I live in is not suitable for growing lemons, so up until a few years ago, I had never tasted a fresh homegrown lemon. Then a friend of mine, who lives in a warmer climate, sent me a box of lemons from her own tree. Wow, it was like I had never tasted a lemon before!

  65. I've been reading your blog for several months now and enjoy it very much. I am a bit concerned by your use of recycled plastic drink bottles. These are designed as single use bottles and the plastic degrades into the contents if used repeatedly. I know of some folks who have been seriously ill from reusing drink bottles. I would not use them myself but can't think of an alternative that would be as simple! Blessed Be.

  66. I am envious of your lemons. In my three years living in Australia we made good use of the lemons in other people's yards. Many people weren't using them at all, or just squeezing them on fish. I truly wish we could grow our own here in Canada.

    Your whole blog makes me want to buy an acreage and grow and make everything we use. I'm sure you're not trying to induce envy though!

  67. Hi Rhonda,

    It's been a long time since I have visited the blog and it appears to have changed so much from the beginning. The growth is amazing. I have just been enjoying your lemon post and it's made me think I should take the kids down and pick ours to store. Our tree is like yours but currently laden due to good regular rain over the past 18 months. I think I'll dig out Mum's old cordial recipe. My SIL stops by every day and keeps me up to date with your acitivites. Now that I have finished studying I think I'll try to stop by more often.

    Thanks again,


  68. This is just what I need. I moved to a country town 6 months ago and have a lemon tree about to burst with fruit. Looking for ways to use the lemons and not waste them, this is great. Thank you.


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