Sustaining the Okanagan 7: Going Lemonless, Mmmmm

Every day trucks from Mexico, California, Texas, Arizona, Florida and no doubt all sorts of other places with names and histories of their own drive north full of lemons for the houses and restaurants of the Okanagan Valley in Canada. They sure are pretty things.lemon-181650_960_720

Nice sour things full of citric acid.lemon-1117568_960_720


Thing is, we have citric acid here too, and it looks like this (well, growing over the fence of my neighbour down the way.)P1170375

That’s right, until Veraison, that special time when the grape vine lays down malolactic (apple) acids in its skins and starts to colour up with all kinds of exquisite sparks of taste and complexity (in the skin), grapes are almost 100% citric acid.

Veraison usually comes in the third week of July or so here, but it’s going to be early this year. Before then, vineyards need to thin out their extra clusters. They throw them away. We could have a second crop on every vineyard, tens of thousands of hectares of production, of wonderful grapey citric acid, for our salads and all our other special things. I tried it last year, a little past version, and the juice made wondrous salads, with gentle grape flavours, and the whole thing was not so sharp as a lemon, but subtle and very fine.P1170379

Without spending a drop more water than we are spending now, we could transform our food culture and add a completely new souring agent, one with hundreds of complex variations, to the world food table.P1170384

We would be a global food destination. Talk about added value. Talk about something you chefs should be getting onto like last week. I mean, the wine is getting to be pretty generic these days, and vineyards are scarcely paying and all, and this could change everything. Let’s go!

5 replies »

  1. I have a single Meyer lemon bush (rather than a tree) and it produces enough fruit for about 15 pints of marmalade (I also use calamondins in this preserve),, several big jars of preserved or pickled lemons, and lots of fresh juicy lemons. It comes inside from late October until April, the bees love it, and I would feel lost without the scent of lemon blossom in the dark days of January. Yes to grapes but citrus doesn’t need to be limited to the south!


  2. I tried Meyer lemons for the first time last winter in Arizona. Absolutely no comparison to those clunky lemons in our grocery stores. As for switching over … is there a restaurant or local chef who would be willing to take up your challenge, Harold? Bringing someone like that onside – who could show patrons/customers how wonderful this could be – might tip the scale.


    • Yes, that would be key. What I’d like to do is have an evening conversation among food people some time.

      First, though, a vineyard that is thinning grapes, that would be great… but I’m going to be away at just the wrong time.

      Next year might work better.

      Liked by 1 person

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