Preserved Lemons are easy to make; just lemons, salt and time!
Fresh lemons are a workhorse in the kitchen. They add an acidic, bright zing to dishes unlike any other ingredient. While fresh lemon juice heightens flavor, preserved lemons add a fermented punch to any dish.
When Paula Wolfert introduced Americans to preserved lemons in her cookbook Couscous and Other Good Food From Morocco in 1973, many were unfamiliar with this product. At the time it was considered something of an exotic ingredient, found only in ethnic dishes such as Moroccan tagines and North African stews. Today it sits between mustard and chutney on grocery store shelves. As tempting as it may be to grab one, creating this versatile condiment requires just three things; lemons, salt and time. That’s it!
IN SEASON NOW!
Although finding citrus all-year round is easy, winter is when citrus is at its peak. Making a few jars of preserved lemons will save this fruit long after the bounty is gone. Eureka lemons are typically used however, the popular Meyer lemon makes for a sweet alternative. The spice mixture in this recipe is optional. With or without the spices, preserved lemons can be used in place of fresh lemons in most recipes.
Replace preserved lemon for lemon zest in gremolata, it’s delicious with roasted asparagus and carrots. A few drops of preserved lemon juice in a bloody mary adds a umami quality. A tablespoon of chopped preserved lemon gives a boost to a pot of beans or a bowl of grains. One of my favorites is to combine cooked pasta, shredded chicken, roasted broccoli, olive oil and a tablespoon or so of chopped preserved lemon rind, finish with several grinds of freshly ground pepper, parmesan and chopped parsley.
Scrub 5 of the lemons well, then soften them by rolling them back and forth on a firm work surface. Quarter each softened lemon from the blossom end to within ¼ inch of the stem end. Spread the salt in a wide, shallow bowl. Sprinkle 1 to 2 teaspoons of the salt on the exposed flesh of the lemons, then reshape the fruits. Halve and squeeze the remaining 4 or 5 lemons to total ½ cup juice. If using the spice mixture, have all the ingredients ready in a small bowl.
Place 1 tablespoon of the salt at the bottom of a large widemouthed glass jar with a tight-fitting lid. Place the 5 prepared lemons into the jar, adding more salt and the spice mixture, if using, between the lemons. Firmly push down on the lemons so they release their juices. (A cocktail muddler is and ideal too for this.) Top with the ½ cup fresh lemon juice. The lemons should be completely submerged, with about ½-inch headspace between the liquid and the inside of the lid. Add more lemon juice if needed to cover. Screw on lid.
Let the lemons ripen in a warm place for 30 days, turning the jar upside down every few days to distribute the salt and juice. If necessary, add more lemon juice to keep the lemons covered. Transfer to the refrigerator.
To use the lemons, remove them from their brine as needed, using a wooden spoon or tongs to extract them, Rinse them unser running cool water to remove the excess salt. Usually on the rind is used.
They will keep for up to one year.
Adapted from “Unforgettable, The Bold Flavors of Paula Wolfert’s Renegade Life”
By Emily Kaiser Thelin (Grand Central Life & Style 2017)
Hello! It’s been a looooong time, hope you had a great summer!
S-shop: I can’t say it enough and especially this time of year, shop a local farmers’ market! Supply is up so prices are dropping but that won’t last long. Melons are selling for $1/pound, heirloom tomatoes for $2.50/pound and zucchini for $2/pound, all organic! You can freeze whole tomatoes in a plastic bags for winter use. Every September I make a big batch of this heirloom tomato soup and freeze, you’ll be glad you did. There is nothing like a warm bowl of this soup alongside a gooey grilled cheese on a cold winter’s night. And don’t forget to buy fruit and freeze for smoothies!
L-learn: The podcast The Splendid Table “is public radio’s culinary, culture and lifestyle program that celebrated food and it’s ability to touch the lives and feed the soles of everyone”. I especially enjoyed the most recent Seasons episode particularly the part about Gravenstein apples from Sebastopol, CA which starts at the 29:00 mark.
O-own:a salad spinner. Of all the kitchen equipment I have (and I have a lot!!!) I use my spinner on a daily basis. I prefer spinners with 3 parts, a bowl, strainer basket and a top. They are easy to use, just fill up the bowl with cool clean water. Toss in greens or herbs and allow to sit about 15 minutes then lift out the basket. Don’t toss that water down the drain, water a plant or two! Then replace the basket and spin until dry. I then remove the greens and place on a clean kitchen towel, allowing them to air dry for a bit, just to make sure they are absolutely dry. Salad dressing will not coat wet greens. You can store your greens in the salad spinner (without water) until ready to use.
W-watch:Pumpkin spice was so 2016! I think caramel apple flavor is the next craze. This video of Carmel Apple Cake, Has me craving all things fall (well kinda, I’m still really really in love with tomatoes).
S-Shop for starters/seedlings. Now is the time to be thinking about vegetables you’d like to plant in your garden. Farmers’ markets, nurseries and pop-up sales are good places to find heirloom tomatoes, peppers, herbs and plenty of other seasonal vegetables. This past weekend, I visited Cornerstone in Sonoma for the annual Tomatomania sale, a two-day sale of 300 heirloom and hybrid tomatoes. So when you go shopping for your garden, grab your favorites and add a new variety to the mix. I picked up a new one called Michael Pollan!
L-Learn I am loving the podcast The Feedby Rick Bayless and Steve Dolinsky. Great information, topics and information……and it’s free!
O-Own a bag drying rack. I try to limit the consumption of resealable plastic bags but in all honesty they are handy for a variety of reasons mainly marinating meat and vegetables. When I can, I wash and reuse only those that have been used for fruits and vegetables, those that are used for meat and fish I discard. Alternatively, you could use a tall drinking glass with wooden skewers.
W-Watch Sustainable. This week I attended a viewing of the movie at a local bookstore. The movie reminded me of Food Inc, the movie I mentioned in last week’s post. The movie highlights farmers, the struggles they face making a living and the difference between small farmers and big-ag farming.
I haven’t been posting a weekly report as much of the same is still around. I do know, after speaking with a few farmers, is that early peach varieties will arrive within the month, cherries are just around the corner and mulberries will arrive soon!
Hope you all had a lovely weekend. Did you visit a farmers’ market? I had hoped to shop the Napa Farmers Market on Saturday, the opening day, sadly it didn’t happen. I was able to make a stop at my regular Thursday market. I did not post a Weekly Report as the fruit and vegetables selection was virtually unchanged.
Here is the third installment of The SLOW Week.
S-Shop for organic strawberries. Why organic? Strawberries top the list of The Dirty Dozen, a list of the top 12 fruits and vegetables that contain the highest amount of pesticides. Strawberries tested by scientists at the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 2014 and 2015 contained on average 7.7 different pesticides per sample, compared to 2.3 per sample for all other produce, according to a new EWG (Environmental Working Group) analysis. Plus, they are at their prime and so delicious!
L-Learn about safe seafood choices. The Monterey Bay Aquarium offers Seafood Watchguides for each state. There are three categories, “Best Choices”, “Good Alternatives” and “Avoid”. So whether you’re at your local fishmonger, favorite restaurant or traveling you can make an informed choice anywhere.
O-Own a subscription to Edible magazine. With 90 editions there is surely one for your area. These magazines highlight local food, purveyors, chefs and stories, connecting people to their food communities.
W-Watch Food Inc. When the film was released in 2009 it shocked viewers. The film exposes the corporate control over food systems in America, inhumane treatment of animals and the use of pesticides to name just a few.
Hello Monday! Here is the second installment of The SLOW Week. If you missed last week’s explanation and information click here.
S-Shop reusable produce bags. Most everyone nowadays owns a few reusable shopping bags now it’s time to move beyond that. There are two types of bags, mesh and cloth, both are better options than one-time use plastic. I personally prefer cloth as they can be washed over and over again, I put them in a mesh lingerie bag and wash with my kitchen towels. If you are crafty you can make them!
last week I encouraged you to try a new vegetable. I did the same and cooked up rapini-it was delicious.
L–Learn how to handle a knife. As I mentioned in my post last week, a sharp knife is better than a dull one. It helps to know how to properly hold a knife so that you avoid cutting yourself.
O-Own-an instant-read thermometer. Grilling season is upon us and an instant-read thermometer is an inexpensive piece of equipment that is vital to have on hand. The benefits of an instant-read versus a leave- in thermometer are that you need only insert the tip rather than about an inch of a leave-in thermometer. An instant read typically calculates the temperature much faster and more accurately.
W-Watch-Michael Pollan is best known for his book The Omnivores Dilemma. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend you do so. His book Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation has been turned into a Netflix series. He explores cooking by four elements; fire, water, air and earth. It’s a fascinating journey.