Thursday, March 22, 2012

Meyer Lemons - Preserved

I get excited when I see Meyer lemons at the market.  The Meyer lemon is a cross between a lemon and an orange and was brought to this country from China by Frank Meyer in 1908.  A winter fruit with a limited season, I like to take advantage of this glorious citrus while it is available.  

I use the zest in cakes and the juice in salad dressings.  I float chunks in my water glass for some flavor.  I place a whole lemon in the cavity of a chicken when I roast chicken and use the juice and zest to flavor vegetables.  Infusing olive oil with Meyer lemon is a simple thing to do, taking literally minutes but leaving you with a bottle of "perfumed oil" to splash on fish or chicken or veggies.  Read about it here.

Another way to keep the essence of the Meyer lemon after the season ends is to preserve the fruit in salt and oil.  Regular lemons can be used in this manner as well as the Meyer lemon.  This condiment, especially popular in North African cooking, is easy to make.  I followed a recipe that produced just enough to fill the two cup jar you see above.

Plunge three lemons into boiling water for 5 minutes.  

Allow them to cool on the counter until they are able to be handled.  Cut into halves, then quarters and then eighths.  Remove seeds and pith as you go along.  

Place about 2/3 cup of Kosher salt into a bowl and toss the lemon wedges in the salt. 

Fill the jar with the salted wedges of lemon.  

Take the juice of 3 - 4 more lemons, strained, enough to cover the lemons and then close the lid.  Place on the counter top for about 5 days, shaking the jar once each day.  At the end of that time, add 1/3 cup olive oil to the jar and place in the refrigerator.  Give the lemons at least a week to cure before using them.

Using preserved lemons takes just a bit of creativity.  Here is an article with ideas and recipes to get you started.  I made a preserved lemon aioli to go along with chicken for dinner tonight.

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