(I took the header picture of a Common Loon resting on a pond in Utah on its way north in June of 2015. It was in transition from winter to summer plumage.)

Translate - I dare you. Then make a comment on the funny errors the translator made.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Preserved lemons

I haven't got apricots this summer, and I might have missed my chance, which is too bad.  I wanted to eat some fresh, dry some, and pickle some like I did last year.  I still have some of the ersatz umeboshi that I blogged about, and they're still good and salty and potent.  I've used them to flavor beans, grits and sauces, only rarely eating them straight because they're so salty.  It looks like I'll run out of them and not have any to replenish, unless I can quickly get some apricots.  The harvest has been meager around here this year, so I might have to settle for store-bought trucked-in - bleah.  But for the sake of the brine, it might be worth it.

I wanted to report on another food project I did this spring: preserved lemons.  These are a tradition in Morocco and other places (my Lebanese cookbook has a recipe).  I've been wanting to try them and when we visited Mesa, AZ this April I had my chance: the last of the citrus was on and some neighbors of in-laws had a tree that was burgeoning with more fruit than they could use.  So my older daughter and I went and picked huge lemons and grapefruits.  I'm really getting spoiled for fruit: I don't want to buy lemons or grapefruits from stores any more either.

Anyway, I took some pictures.  Here are some of the lemons:

Some of the smallest ones - barely fit four in this jar
 I did two jars: the smaller one you see here, and a larger one.  The smaller jar had more salt - I thought it might be too much - but it kept fine at room temperature after the first month curing.  The larger jar developed a skin of mold on top but I scraped it off and the lemons are fine.  I keep the larger jar in the fridge, and the smaller jar has been used up by now, from sharing with others and using in recipes.

The juice - lovely salty sourness - is excellent for hummus and guacamole.  The peel gets really soft and is easy to mince, crush and grind, and I like to put it in dressings and sauces, though I'm still getting used to the flavor.

Also in Arizona I picked a bunch of little ornamental oranges from my in-laws' tree.  They're sour and not very juicy, but while we were staying there I found that their juice made a wonderful pasta sauce with olive oil and garlic.  So I decided to preserve some of them in salt too.

The mini oranges - on the table you can see bits of cloves from some pomander balls I also made that day (I must not have done them right because they went bad - the pomander balls I mean).

Packing them in salt

Trying to squish them down so they'd be covered in juice

The two fruits in their jars ready to cure, with more lemons in the background

The preserved mini-oranges combine the tangy complexity of orange peel flavor with intense saltiness, bringing a surprising bright taste to savory dishes.  It's not something I'm used to but it''s delicious.  I particularly like to use them in peanut sauces.

I don't know if we'll go to AZ again next spring, so in case we don't I might have to pay for family to pick and send more fruit.