As the weather changes and the vigorous bubbles of summer ferments slows down, it's time to put down those winter brews that like a long, slow ferment developing deep character and bringing a blanket of settling calm to the house, much like the season.
Citrus has been in such surplus here in Newcastle and I've been fortunate enough to receive many a bag of gifted fruit from friends and family. Having only grown about 6 citrus per tree this year I fully appreciate the love and energy that's gone into each piece of fruit so I really don't want to waste a thing.
We have made some fantastic citrus based dishes like Italian lemon cheesecake and many many batches of parsley pesto (you can find this recipe in my book ) but ultimately a large quantity have gone into making preserved lemons.
I wasn't really a big eater of preserved lemons before, I have a vague memory of mum making some when I was a teenager though. It's funny how now they seem like the most magical and amazing thing (preserved lemon and smashed avocado is truley delicious) and the transformation that happens is beautiful as those hard lemon rinds soften to give you a creamy lemony mouthful. It's totally blissful.
Bet your wanting to know how to make them ;-)
Well this is what I do,
So feel free to play a long at home.
Take a large, freshly cleaned jar, I use a 4 litre swing top jar.
Clean any obvious dirt from your lemons.
Make and incision in your lemons from top to tail but only cut 3/4 of the way through.
Repeat on the 90 degree cross angle (make a criss cross)
Pack 1/4 tsp salt into the opening of the lemon
Place the lemon in the jar
Repeat this with all your lemons
When the jar seems full, use the end of a rolling pin or similar utensil and push down on the lemons. This releases the juice and it mixes with the salt. Keep pushing and squashing the lemons until you have enough juice to cover the lemons.
Pack the jar with more salted lemons, repeat the juicing step until your jar is approx 2 inches below the rim.
If you have fermenting weights then use them to keep the lemons submerged, if not then get a small to medium Ziplock bag. Put 1/4 cup of water inside and close it up without trapping any air inside the bag.
Place the bag inside the jar, spreading it out evenly across the lemony mix. The bag acts as a weight, keeping the lemons down under the salty lemon juice brine, keeping out air which can turn your ferments brown and yuck.
Clamp your lid shut and put your preserved lemons on a shelf to slowly transform over the coming months.
I like to leave my preserved lemons for 8-10 weeks before diving into the jar and dishing out a golden Jewel to add to any number of dishes.
Hope you enjoy them