Friday, December 28, 2012

Sunshine in a Jar

~ preserving citrus ~
Meyer lemons are back in the grocery stores! This means Seville oranges will soon arrive & that means it will be marmalade season in about a month! But first - the Meyer lemons...

If you haven't tried these little delights, I suggest you try them - sweet & lovely at this time of year & lemons are an essential in my kitchen ever since I did a 'cleanse' last spring. They can be substituted for many things in your recipes (typically I sub lemon juice & rind for oil, cooking wine & heavy dressings or sauces).

But right now I'm trying something completely different. I'm going to try to make 'pickled lemons' or 'preserved lemons', depending on which site you find. My first stumble of this idea was many months ago & I just tucked it away on the back burner & was amazed I recalled where I had read of it: The Essential Herbal magazine, a place I like to stroll through on occasion, has a great write up & a few other ideas (mmm, lemons & honey!) that I'll play around with too. I did read through various other on-line recipes for making preserved lemons, watched a few YouTube videos & came to the conclusion that there are many, many ways to do this & I'll just have to try a few to see what works best for me.

This is the base of my first recipe, found at Simply Recipes & already I've stepped away from the recipe by not leaving the lemons whole with quarters sliced into them. I cut them into individual quarters & have them pressed tightly into the jar (on the right in the above photo). I've added some homegrown lavender (as I know lemon & lavender are extremely good together) & I also added a bit of extra lemon juice from the bottle I keep in the fridge.

The jar on the left is my spontaneous idea to try this with grapefruit. Grapefruit & juniper berries seemed like an idea & I sliced up the grapefruit instead of doing them into wedges. The salt with the grapefruit has already released a lot of grapefruit juice & I will check on the jars daily to press the fruit down to ensure they are covered with either juice or salt.

This little experiment is going to take a few weeks - essentially a fermentation process & I'll probably pop them into the fridge before I leave on vacation in January.

I plan on purchasing some more Meyer lemons to try a few other jars with different methods. Maybe not adding extra lemon juice, or trying different spices or cutting the lemons in slices instead of wedges. I've got lots of jars!

Now, what will I do with all this preserved citrus? I think I'll have to learn how to cook Moroccan dishes (as that is closely tied in with the idea of preserved citrus) & I'll definitely be experimenting with salad dressings & marinades for fish & chicken. I should have some ready just in time for late spring when the first fresh greens are ready in the garden! This is definitely a worthy winter project...

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