Flavours of the Adriatic: Autumn Citrus and Fruits

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Moving away from traditional dishes (as such), this week we are penning an article about our seasonal friends – lemons, mandarins and pomegranates.

I have already written about the fact that the olive harvest is underway and the first World Championship for Olive Picking just took place on the island Brač, so no need to talk about that again. So far, our Flavours of the Adriatic series has covered traditional dishes like crni rižot, Žrnovski macaroni, Viška Pogača

However, this week I wanted to change the tone a little and follow the seasons because this is part of the way of life here in Croatia. Coming from New Zealand and having lived in Australia and the UK, I was used to doing all of my shopping in supermarkets out of pure convenience (I was never up early enough to get to the farmers’ markets). The beauty of shopping in supermarkets is that everything is there at your fingertips, in one place and it doesn’t matter what season it is – fruits, produce, whatever you are in the mood for is available all-year-round.

This was one of the first few things I noticed about life in Croatia, I had to wait for Summer to get my berry and nectarine fix, Spring to make my asparagus risotto and Autumn for the best citrus! It was a little frustrating to begin with but now I have grown to love and appreciate it; every season comes bearing its gift and it makes it all the more worthwhile!


Credit: Trover.com

Now, Autumn is here and trees are laden with lemons, mandarins and pomegranate; not that you need to walk far to spot them either, it seems that every house has fruit trees, most bearing more than the household can manage, so a sneaky ‘pick’ from the tree is not (too) frowned upon.


The fact that citrus comes into season as the weather is shifting from hot summer days to cooler night and Bura mornings tells me that mother nature has our back. Think about it – most people get sick in between the changing of seasons and mother nature is all like: ‘hey, look at me, a beautiful tree full of lemons and mandarins’, is this not a perfect reminder to increase your vitamin C hit? Pomegranates are also chock-full of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants – all the good stuff to keep us going.


Credit: Healthline.com

However, I am not just going to talk to you about how you should start every day with a glass of warm lemon-water and honey (to ward off colds and get the digestive system started) but these citrus delights are also very much a part of the Adriatic life in other forms.

Heard of Limoncello? Well, it is not only Italians who make this, you will find it along the Adriatic also. One of the best Limoncellos or lemon liqueur I have tried was on the island Vis, which is famous for its lemons! Making limoncello/lemon liqueur, however, you wish to call it makes sense here; the grape harvest has been, most families have already made their wine and then distilled grappa from the remnants so, the only thing left to do is to add some lemons to the grappa to make a gorgeous limoncello. The difference between Croatian and Italian limoncello is that Italians typically use Vodka rather than grappa and they say that the difference between a good and great limoncello is in the quality of lemons used.

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Credit: wearActive.com

To make limoncello is actually quite simple, lemons are peeled (a fine peel, don’t take any of the white pith) and typically put in a large glass jar and covered with grappa. Next, a simple syrup (sugar with water) is made, allowed to cool and then added to the mixture. This is all stored for 3 – 5 weeks (depending on how ‘lemony’ you want your limoncello), filtered, cooled and served ice cold as a great digestif at the end of a meal.

A tree full of mandarins or pomegranates? A perfect time to make marmalades!


Credit: skinnyms.com

As I said, there is an absolute beauty to the seasons here and learning to appreciate them is one of the many treasures this country has given me.

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