Monday, December 28

preserved lemons

these might be the least involved preserves I've yet attempted. the recipe comes from eugenia bone's well preserved, which wisely accompanies each "canned" recipe with a few dishes using them ... because what's the point in putting-up food if you don't ever use it? one of the accompanying recipes in this chapter is a lemon risotto with soft-shell crab. I can hardly wait to try it out when spring warms the breezes. 'round these parts, that should be sometime in mid-february.

preserved meyer lemons

take five or six meyer lemons – called "valley lemons" in texas (no difference except about a buck-ana-half a pound at the market) – preferably discovered on your porch, following one of doubletonic's visits home (that girl deserves to be called the giving tree, for all the produce that mysteriously arrives on our front stoop). scrub them well, as the skin will be included.

bring a wide-mouth pint jar and its lid to a boil in a large pot of water. boil for 10 minutes before removing with tongs.

when the jar is dry but still hot, cut about half of lemons into wedges and arrange in jar – packed as tightly as possible, sprinkling a little of 1/2 cup total kosher salt between layers.

cut remaining lemons in half and squeeze into jar, until everything is submerged. any variety other than meyer lemons may require a few extras to generate enough juice. harder lemons may benefit from 10 seconds in the microwave or two minutes in simmering water. remove any visible air bubbles by nudging fruit aside with a skewer or knife, to allow juice to fill the space. screw lid on until finger-tight.

store on kitchen counter, while lemons ferment for two weeks (non-meyer varietals may require 3 to 4 weeks – they're ready when the peel is soft enough to tear), turning the jar every few days to redistribute salt. after the lemons soften and the juice becomes syrupy, refrigerate up to 6 months.

that's it. no, really! to use, scrape off seeds, ignore the white precipitate of salt/oil/pith, and chop. regular lemons may require scraping off of the pith, but meyers are good as-is. but then again, meyers are practically perfect in every way.


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