If you haven’t worked it out by now, I am quite addicted to citrus. It really is one of my favourite flavours. At the top of the list is lemon; her juice freshens and lifts a one dimensional flavour, she adds zip and makes a colour true when I use her to deglaze instead of wine. When candied, she adds glamour, when something is need of a rescue, she cleans. If something is too sweet she brings balance, when something is too salty, she softens and when I cut myself, a quick rub on her cut surface restores and heals.
A really delicious thing to do with lemons, especially when you’ve got way too many sitting in your fruit bowl, is to salt preserve them. It’s an incredibly short and simple process but when you crack open a jar after 3 months and use them, my goodness, they add a depth of flavour to a dish that really is unsurpassed. Lemons are commonly used, but I’ve been known to jar blood oranges in peak season, limes when the price is good and kafir limes from a lovely customers tree for our #bringusyourexcess campaign.
Salt Preserved Citrus
Use whatever and however many you have, wash the wax off the skin and cut into wedges that will be easy for you to handle. I like my lemons into 6, my limes into 4 and my oranges into 8.
Weigh your fruit and add a quarter of the weight in salt. i.e 1 kg fruit : 250 g salt.
massage your fruit and salt to get all the juices flowing and the salt semi dissolved, and put them aside.
Wash a jar or 2 that will adequately hold all your fruit and pop your flavourings in the bottom.
I like to use a whole clove of garlic, (just smashed to release its’ oil, no need to peel), some whole cloves and a sprig or 2 of fresh thyme or other woody herb. Pack your wedges into your prepped jars leaving at least a cm of room near the rim. Reserve all your liquid until your jars are full and then top up your jars evenly with it. If your liquid doesn’t quite cover your fruit; top the jars up with water.
Pop your lids on the jars and place them in a spot, undisturbed for a minimum of 6 weeks. I like to let them go for 3 months, by then all your liquid has turned to jelly and the skins have softened.
To use them, pull the membrane away from the skin, rinse the skin under water and chop up super fine. Yep, you’re only using the skin. The flavour is quite strong, so be moderate until you’re used to the flavour.
Here’s a couple of ideas to get you thinking about other ways you can use these beautiful pieces of citrus skin.
If I’m making a lamb curry for 4, I’ll pop some 2 pieces of kafir lime or normal lime in with my onions and garlic and then sweeten the curry with dates and grated apple.
A wedge of preserved orange is really lovely in a marinade for salmon with garlic and chopped basil.
I quite like a piece of lemon skin in my dry martini in place of an olive.
Make a salad dressing with a clove of garlic and 1/2 a piece of preserved skin smashed in my mortar and pestle, transfer to a jam jar and add a tsp of dijon mustard, the juice of a lemon, 10 grinds of pepper and 1 cup of olive oil and shake to emulsify.
Rough chop and dry some skins and add them to a dukkah mix for some extra zip on your morning toast and avo.
Just to play with your mind, I’ve even been known to use preserved orange in a sweet short crust pastry, filled with a bittersweet chocolate ganache.
Ok; your turn! Have fun playing with flavours and if you accidentally on purpose invent an amazing dish using your preserved citrus, I want the recipe!!