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.
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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!