Moroccan Salt Preserved Citrus: Blood Oranges and Meyer Lemons

March 6th, 2008  |  Published in All, DIY Food Projects, Fantastic Fruits, Lemon, Most Popular, Orange, Preserves and Pickles, Weekend Projects  |  19 Comments

Salt Preserved Blood OrangesSaltPreservedLemons

Update 3/28/08: This post has been submitted to the ‘Grow Your Own‘ blog event hosted by Andrea’s Recipes. Check it out!

Moroccan Salt Preserved Citrus: Blood Oranges and Meyer Lemons

The following preparation method can be used with regular (Eureka) lemons, meyer lemons, or blood oranges (slightly more sour than typical oranges). Quantities will vary depending on the size of your jar(s). Note: use only one type of fruit per jar.

-meyer lemons or blood oranges (2-4 per pint jar)
-coarse sea salt or kosher salt (on the order of large handfuls, not pinches; I used about a cup to make three pint-jars of preserved citrus)

Special Equipment: Clean glass jars with lids

Clean glass jars and lids thoroughly by either 1) placing in boiling water for 10 minutes, or 2) running through the dishwasher.

Working over a bowl, slice citrus into quarters from the top to bottom, leaving the bottom 1/2 inch in tact so the fruit doesn’t fall apart. Rub cut sections with generous pinches of salt. Rub salt onto peel. Place fruit in jar, pressing to expel some of its juice. Sprinkle an additional generous pinch of salt into jar. Continue to cut, salt, and add fruit to jar until it is tightly packed, remembering to add an additional generous pinch of salt after every fruit addition. Pour any accumulated juice and salt from the bowl into the jar. Seal and shake a few times.

Shake the jar a few times a day for 4 days, then place jar in a dark cabinet for one month. When ready to use, remove citrus pieces from jar, rinse with water, and use as desired.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Yaarrrr! It be citrus bounty week here in Los Altos Hills, CA… I gathered m’self about 10 schhwarly pounds of home-grown blood oranges and meyer lemons (from a co-worker and a neighbor, respectively). Ahh… pirates and citrus… who’d have thought they’d be such a natural match? :)

So what to do when life gives you lemons (and blood oranges)? Well, some may say you should make lemonade, but I actually think you should make 1) salt preserved citrus, and 2) marmalade.

Preserved lemons have a really unique flavor — salty-sour and almost pickled. They are used extensively in Moroccan cuisine, and have a natural affinity with green olives. Preserved lemons are showing up more often in well-stocked gourmet grocery stores, and they’re usually pretty good since they’re still such a specialty item. They are so easy to make at home though that I suggest everyone try it at least once, especially if you have locally grown organic citrus literally falling off the trees around where you live (such is the case for many californians and floridians).

Preserved oranges, on the other hand, I’ve never seen used in a recipe, nor seen in a store, and is purely a Jen Carlile / Modern Beet experiment since I have so many blood oranges on hand right now. I imagine the result will be similar to the more traditional preserved lemon, but with a sweet-salty-sour tasty instead of salty-sour. I will most certainly post the results in the coming weeks and months (and will post YOUR ideas/results too if you make these preserved oranges and send me recipes).

When cooking with preserved lemons and oranges, the peel is the centerpiece of the fruit rather than the flesh. When you want to use your preserved citrus, remove a section from the jar, rinse it with water to remove the excess salt, remove the flesh and pith, then thinly slice or chop the peel and use however you desire. Of course, if the flesh looks appealing, by all means, add it to the recipe or experiment with it.

Some possible uses for preserved citrus are:
-minced with green olives and shallots as a chutney with chicken, fish, or tofu
-added to a tagine
-chopped and mixed with parsley for an herb salsa
-diced and added to couscous
-added to mashed garbanzo or white beans with parsley for a hummus-like spread
-cut into ribbons as a garnish for a chilled vodka martini (I imagine the saltiness of the preserved citrus would make it taste on the ‘dirty’ side)

And like the fruit infused vodkas I featured back in december, making preserved lemons and oranges requires some patience (a month or so). On the flip side, the active time is only about 15 minutes, and it’s certainly a fun and easy process. No matter, I definitely think it’s worth a try!

Salt Preserved Citrus

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  1. Vegeyum says:

    March 7th, 2008at 11:10 pm(#)

    These look really nice. I have flirted with preserved lemons before, but never really used them a lot. I like your list of what to do with them.

    Keep us posted on how they turn out, and how you used them.

  2. Jen says:

    March 8th, 2008at 9:37 pm(#)

    Vegeyum – Thanks! I’ll most certainly post results once the citrus is ready… btw, your post on the market at Siem Reap is great! One of my favorite things to do while traveling is to wander through open air food markets. My favorites so far have been in Mysore, Barcelona, and Temuco. Your post makes me want to visit Cambodia….

  3. maybelle's mom says:

    March 9th, 2008at 9:30 am(#)

    Oh, this is something I have done for years, since the first time I saw it on the Frugal Gourmet as a kid. I use them with so much, in a vinagrette to put over couscous salad, minced finely and added to olives and then warmed for an easy starter, in the gravy for chicken and of course in Tagines. Can’t wait to hear about all your uses.

  4. maybelle's mom says:

    March 9th, 2008at 6:12 pm(#)

    I decided to combine a couple of your ideas in a recipe for lunch–a pot pie with preserved lemons and swiss chard stems.

  5. Jen says:

    March 10th, 2008at 9:09 am(#)

    Maybelle’s Mom – that sounds tasty! What all went into your pot pie? I’m imagining a version with spinach (or chard), a little shredded chicken, and some garlic… but the possibilities are endless

  6. Nan Slaughter says:

    March 11th, 2008at 12:36 am(#)

    I’m definitely going to try this! Thanks! I only wish I had a blood orange tree in my yard! I once visited a friend in Phoenix and every day we drove past a grapefruit orchard – finally I could take it no longer and insisted that she pull over so I could go grab some fruit right off the tree…she did, I got caught red-handed by the farmer, who then offered me two large grocery bags filled with grapefruit…and to think they used to shoot fruit thiefs…or so I’m told! Thanks for this recipe! Nan

  7. Pieds Des Anges (Kyla) says:

    March 12th, 2008at 9:55 pm(#)

    Awesome lemons and what a great idea to use blood oranges. I’m ON the preserved lemons this weekend. We are actually neighbors! Must have a blogger meet up some time.

  8. Jen says:

    March 13th, 2008at 8:37 am(#)

    Nan – lovely story about the grapefruit orchard! I can just imagine the sinking feeling of being caught red-handed, and the relief of encountering such a nice farmer! It seems he was proud of his crop and happy to share!

    Kyla – any blogger meet up should definitely be a potluck!

  9. maybelle's mom says:

    March 13th, 2008at 6:11 pm(#)

    jen, i love your ideas for the lemon pot pie. I think i might remake it with your ideas and a sprinkle of cinnamon–like a moroccan one. and then maybe with a little parsley in the crust and a little onion and parsley salad as a side. but, mine was swiss chards stems, potatoes and lemon. I was going for vegan. (the picts are at my site.)

  10. Julia says:

    March 15th, 2008at 9:44 am(#)

    jen, thanks to you, i have now become fully addicted to food blogs! but there is no place like home and i am waiting with bated appetite for your next post!

    i’m going to the cambridge farmer’s market tomorrow and will think of you!

  11. Andrea says:

    March 31st, 2008at 6:41 pm(#)

    This is fabulous! I wish that I had citrus falling off the trees at my feet, but alas they don’t do well in the cold winter climate in Northern Virginia. So I must enjoy it vicariously through the California food blogs! Thanks for sharing the secret of this delicacy with us for Grow Your Own!

  12. Blood Orange Marmalade with a Hint of Rosemary | Modern Beet says:

    April 8th, 2008at 1:45 pm(#)

    [...] blood oranges from a coworker, plus nearly as many meyer lemons from my neighbor! First I made Moroccan Salt-Preserved Citrus, then decided to try my hand at marmalade [...]

  13. Hot and Spicy Pickled Eggs | Modern Beet says:

    June 12th, 2008at 8:58 pm(#)

    [...] of every kind… that’s how the last few months have been going — pickled kohlrabi, pickled lemons, pickled cabbage, pickled onions, and now pickled eggs! Pickled peppers, pickled cucumber, and [...]

  14. Homemade Gravlax (aka Lox) | Modern Beet says:

    December 2nd, 2008at 9:34 pm(#)

    [...] some of my other favorite things — sauerkraut, salt preserved lemons, sun pickles, and sour beets to name a few — the basic procedure to make homemade lox is add [...]

  15. rawLeamerbhed says:

    December 18th, 2008at 7:29 pm(#)

    Hi people

    As a fresh user i only want to say hello to everyone else who uses this board :D

  16. mnorgovudkka says:

    December 28th, 2008at 6:45 pm(#)

    Hy my name is mnorgovudkka
    Im from mongolia

  17. Allie says:

    June 14th, 2009at 2:22 pm(#)

    Did you ever use the preserved blood oranges? How’d they turn out?

  18. Jessica Taylor says:

    June 10th, 2010at 8:23 pm(#)

    my girlfriend has a grape fruit plantation in their backyard and we always taste some of the harvest.:.*

  19. Hot and Spicy Pickled Eggs | Pickled Eggs says:

    April 24th, 2011at 7:00 pm(#)

    [...] pickles of every kind… that’s how the last few months have been going — pickled kohlrabi,pickled lemons, pickled cabbage, pickled onions, and now pickled eggs! Pickled peppers, pickled cucumber, and [...]

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