Celebrate spring with a homemade orange and grapefruit syrup. A splash of this fresh citrus-spiked syrup topped up with sparkling water makes a refreshing light drink. So much better than chemically-flavoured, sugary sodas. (Skip to recipe.)
Yes, Spring has finally arrived here, and like usual, it has arrived with a vengeance. For us northerners, there is none of this gentle three-month greening and mellowing of winter, to gradually awaken and unfold the sleeping buds and blossoms.
No, here, it is BOOM! In two weeks we go from the tail-end of miserable winter, to 27 degree Celsius, shorts-wearing, full-on-green, garden-planting weather.
Our Spring is short but spectacular. If one could sit still long enough, I think you could watch the leaves unfurl. There is daily - no, hourly - change.
Leaves are unfurling, flowers are popping up. Rhubarb and asparagus are lunging out of the earth. Blossoms are unwrapping themselves at an accelerated pace. Insects and animals are stirring. There is movement and colour everywhere.
It is very exciting.
On Mother's Day we got most of the garden planted. It awakened my winter soul to dig in the rich, crumbly earth again, and it was deeply satisfying to spade up and pull out those deep fleshy roots of the tenacious dandelions that had taken hold in my herb bed sometime between last fall and now. Out you darn interlopers, pretty though you are!
I feel hopelessly overwhelmed by all the work, all the weeds still calling my name, but exhilarated to be outside again. The robins are back!
And to toast the final arrival of spring, I squeezed up a bunch of the end-of-season oranges and grapefruits lingering in the crisper drawer, cooked the syrup up with sugar and a few cardamom seeds (I love the combo of orange and cardamom), and topped it up with the effervescent bubbles of some sparkling water.
We clinked glasses of the refreshing orange and grapefruit syrup sodas.
Cheerfulness. Cheery. Cheers!
(Also a great way to use up the overabundance of citrus fruit I couldn't resist earlier in the height of citrus season, some of it getting sadly wrinkly in my downstairs fridge as we eagerly turned to strawberries and watermelon.)
I love the tangy bitterness of the grapefruit with the subtle floral hit of the cardamom.
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Kitchen Frau Note: I also made a batch of this with limes (lime juice, sugar and cardamom). It needed double the amount of sugar, but was equally delicious. I'm toasting Spring - morning, noon and night!
Orange and Grapefruit Syrup (with a Little Hit of Cardamom)
- 1 cup (240ml) freshly squeezed orange juice (I used mandarins)
- 1 cup (240ml) freshly squeezed grapefruit juice
- juice of one lemon
- 1 cup (200gms) natural evaporated cane sugar
- 5 or 6 cardamom pods
- 2 teaspoons orange flower water (optional)
After squeezing the citrus juices push them with the back of a spoon through a fine strainer to remove the pulp. Then measure them.
Pour the orange, grapefruit and lemon juice into a saucepan with the sugar. Crush the cardamom pods lightly with the flat side of a knife on a cutting board or break them open with your fingers, and add them to the juices (pods and seeds).
Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium low and simmer, uncovered, for 15 to 20 minutes, until it starts to get a little syrupy. (It will thicken up even a little more as it cools.)
Stir in the orange flower water and pour through a strainer into a clean jar. Let cool.
Makes 1½ cups (360ml) of syrup and keeps in the refrigerator for several weeks.
To serve, pour several spoonfuls into a glass, add ice cubes and sparkling water or club soda and stir.
Raise a toast to Spring!
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