18 April 2017

Oranges in the orchard and some offal

A-Z challenge – My memories of life on the farm in the nineteen fifties and sixties


“I’m just testing the oranges to see if they are ready.” I often heard my mother say this with a smile as she peeled another freshly picked orange.

We had a wonderful collection of fruit and nut trees in the orchard planted between the house and the milking shed. There were navel and Valencia oranges, mandarins and lemons. Stone fruits included apricots, several varieties of peaches and nectarines and a least three varieties of plums. My favourites were the delicious dark satsuma plums. A pear tree bore plentiful fruit alongside a quince, fig, almond and walnut trees. There were at least two apple trees.

Fruit was eaten fresh, stewed, made into jam and marmalade, bottled and preserved so that we had it throughout the year. In winter there were fruit crumbles – stewed fruit with a crumble topping made of flour, butter, sugar and cinnamon, fruit tarts in pastry cases and fruit puddings – stewed fruit underneath with a batter cake baked top. Apple cakes, orange cakes and more, nothing was ever wasted and no food thrown away.

Lemons and oranges were also made into cordial. This is Mum’s recipe in her handwriting.

She knew and recited or sang all the related nursery rhymes, stories and songs related to the fruit. These are some that were in her repertoire. I'm sure you'll be able to find them.
Oranges - Oranges and lemons say the bells of St Clements ......
Plums - Little Jack Horner ....
Apples - Johnny Appleseed ....
Pears - I had a little nut tree but nothing would it bear ......


Does that put you off? We did not have tripe but lamb’s liver in a thick gravy was a staple meal. The giblets from hens were used to make a nourishing soup with carrots and onions from the vegetable garden. These were chopped very finely to enhance the chicken stock. Sometimes the soup was very thin as water was added to make it go a little further. I still enjoy a feed of liver and bacon.

Next P - Plenty of peas


  1. What a treat that would have been to have fresh citrus growing in your yard! I bet the homemade lemon juice was so much better than what is purchased in stores. Have never heard of offal before. Learned something new today!

    Ann, A to Z Challenge Participant
    Harvest Moon by Hand – a blog about homeschooling, crafting, cooking, and nature

    1. We ate whatever was in season and yes the homemade cordial was good. I've adapted Mum's recipe for lime cordial as we now have a prolific lime tree in our backyard.

  2. I grew up in a small apartment in a Bronx housing project. How I would have loved to have been growing up, instead, near an orchard like that. Oranges, especially. I loved them as a child - would cut one in quarters and much on each quarter. So good!

    1. I enjoy most fruit and oranges are one of the favourites.

  3. Hi Carmel - lots of fruits ... wonderful - we did too ... but the English varieties various! Then the Offal - oh yes ... gizzards and bones for stock, liver for 'liver and onions', kidneys I love, and other things over the years I've tried and would eat more often if they were around ... cheers Hilary


    1. Ah yes, I forgot to mention steak and kidney pies - quite a favourite of ours too. My husband also makes a delicious salade composée then tops it with chicken livers.

  4. Wonderful memories revived yet again for me..my grandparents had so many fruit trees, plus olives, all manner of vegetables and herbs and chickens in abundance. We had lots of vegetables and fruit also, but not as much as they did.
    Our pantry was filled with preserves, jams, chutneys, pickles... just as my grandmother's was. We made our own lemon syrup and ginger beer, plus lemonade..and there were always plum puddings set aside. I still love to cook and bake, but with just two of us, it's not really practical.
    Growing up in the country was great, and I love reliving it through your posts. Thanks, Carmel.

    1. You've probably twigged to V for vegetables coming up. :)) These posts are really stretching my memories too.

  5. Here from the A-Z and no, offal does not put me off, love liver, chicken and lamb both. Fruits fresh off a tree have a different zing factor, can't get that from anything else no matter how organically grown or how fancy! Your post reminded me of some I have eaten off trees - cherries, mangoes, pawpaws and melons, great memories refreshed, thank you!


    1. I think we had a cherry tree too but it must not have been very successful. We now have two varieties of passion-fruit growing along one fence and they are delicious. Thanks for visiting.

  6. I am trying to grow some citrus - except for 4 initial oranges its only the lemons that fruit. No mandarins or limes either. I have have a number of finger lines.
    Hope you are coming Thursday to the meeting.
    We had figs, apricots, grapes and almonds one house in Melbourne.

  7. Love a good home cooked lamb's fry with lots of carrots, celery and gravy, but sadly my family doesn't share my taste, so it's what I order from a country pub menu.
    And you're dead right about nothing went to waste. Not so today.


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