SALTED / PRESERVED CITRUS – another kitchen WOW factor!!!
The cuisine of the first Berbers still exists today in the staple dishes like tagine and couscous.
The Moors introduced olives, olive juice and citrus while the Jewish-Moors left behind their wonderful fermentation techniques that we see in the frequent use of cucumbers, eggplant, cauliflower, and carrots.
The Moors reason for preserving lemons was the usual one: It was a way of continuing to enjoy the fruit after the season had passed.
The peel – the part used most, is soft to the touch and smooth in the mouth. It is translucent, mild and mellow without the acidity and every kitchen should have at least one jar or two.
Remember to keep it simple, organic and one type of citrus for one jar – mixed only look pretty for photographs.
Lemon or Limes are the best kitchen choice.
Orange is great for cleaning.
Non-organic citrus accumulate pesticides in their rinds.
Add extra salt with sweeter fruit (orange and some grapefruits) + add the juice of lemon or lime for greater acidity.
For grapefruit: Select small grapefruits, the thinner the skin, the better, pink, ruby or regular work with a wide mouthed container.
Seasoning suggestions: mustard seeds, coriander seeds, whole black peppercorns, lemongrass, ginger, cinnamon stick, bay leaf, a few cloves or juniper berries.
Feel free to experiment with seasonings or leave them out all together. Remember that anything you add before, will limit the versatility of your final product.
The thicker the rind, the longer it will take to ferment.
Our garden harvest, Thompson Pink grapefruits take about 2 months and limes about 1 month.
Whole Preserved / Salted Limes / Lemons
Seasoning suggestions: coriander seeds, caraway seeds or cumin seeds – we have used cumin salt for limes and deelish!
5 -7 lemons or limes, at room temperature (take out of refrigerator an hour ahead of time).
Wash and scrub organic citrus (organic is important as it is the skin we use).
Soften the fruit by rolling on bench under palm.
The classic Moroccan way is to cut each lemon in quarters but not right through, so that the pieces are still attached at the stem end (to keep submerged).
1 tablespoon salt at the bottom of the jar and smaller quantities on each layer – push each cut salted fruit down well with a wooden spoon (it should produce enough juice to not require extra, however, make sure it is totally submerged in juice (same deal as any fermentable).
Once you have all the fruit in the jar, push down with a wooden spoon, releasing as much juice as possible. Push some more. Cover and Smother with liquid.
Close the jar and leave in a cool place for at least a month. The longer they are left, the better the flavor.
(If a piece of lemon is not covered, it can develop kham yeast (a white bloom) that is harmless and just needs to be washed off. Not like ‘kraut – if kham develops it will affect the taste!
Approx. 4 weeks the kitchen will have preserved rinds. The pores of fruit will have smoothed out, and the liquid will be cloudy and viscous.
Check often and may require a little shake. If they are ever floating add a little lemon or lime juice with a touch of salt.
Before using, scoop out and discard the pulp, and rinse the lemon peel to get rid of the salt.
Another way to store and use salted citrus … drain off excess liquid, remove seeds and blitz – rind and pulp, add back to jar and refrigerate. Enjoy!
2 tablespoons of salt in the bottom of the jar and approximately 2 additional tablespoons sprinkled in the jar
Seasoning suggestions: dried thyme springs, whole cloves, cardamom seeds, peppercorns or Korean red pepper flakes
The process is as above.
The Magic Begins …
Rinse off the excess saltiness. The pulp can be discarded. The flesh imparts a stronger flavor. Chop the rind into very fine pieces.
Pair preserved limes with olives (is there any other cuisine which makes such magic with old, salty fruits?) in the traditional, braised fashion.
Dress them up with lashings of butter in potatoes or risottos or couscous. They stand up to garlic, and they cooperate with fresh plucked herbs.
Team with sautéed vegetables, salads, dips, sauces, curries.
Mix pureed limes with oil, mustard and black pepper to make vinaigrettes or other salad dressings.
Toss cucumbers with pureed limes along with freshly ground black pepper for a cucumber salad.
Do the same with sliced red onions for a quick pickle.
Mix the pureed limes with room temperature unsalted butter or kefir butter or soft cheese to make a butter to finish sauces, pop on bread or serve with seafood.
Stews like the Moroccan-style tagines: stews cooked in clay pots made with various meats cooked with fruits like dried apricots, figs, dates, prunes, raisins, olives, nuts, herbs, and spices.
When making this North African style of stew the preserved limes are added whole or quartered towards the end of the cooking. Only the rind is used.
Toss hot, freshly cooked pasta with pureed limes, smashed fermented garlic and ginger and high quality olive oil.
Roasts – particularly poultry, such as chicken pair well with preserved lemons / limes.
The flesh and rind of the limes are used. The bird is rubbed all over, inside and out for seasoning then sprinkled with black pepper, or ground cumin or any all-purpose seasoning. Very little extra salt is added. The rind is tucked under the skin of the breast on both sides, between the thighs and in the cavity.
Roast potatoes – mix some of the pureed preserved lemon/ limes with oil and toss with par-cooked potatoes and roast.
Add some of the pureed version to mayonnaise to make citrus mayo or to aioli for a garlic-lime aioli.
They nicely balance sweet flavors, such as dried apricots or honey.
Team preserved rinsed lime rinds with avocado for a vegan cheese cake. Awww, we could go on forever!!!
Chanh Muối (Vietnamese Salty Lemonade)
1 chanh muối wedge (salted lemon)
Fizzy mineral water or still water
Sugar / raw honey
Separate and spoon a chanh muối wedge into a tall glass.
Muddle the lemon in your glass with a spoon to mash most of the juices out.
Add your choice of sparkling or still water.
If desired, stir in a few spoonful’s of raw honey to taste. It should have a salty-sweet flavor that’s not too overpowering.
If you want to soothe your cold symptoms, simply steep a chanh muối wedge in a cup of hot water and stir in raw honey.
SCRAP VINEGAR Don’t you love that there is still enough wild yeast and beneficial bacteria in our air and on the skin of our fruit to turn fruit scraps, sweetness, and water into something so tasty and healthy?
Makes for great cleaning product too.
Fill a large jar with fresh clean water. Add 1/4 cup local raw honey / sugar of choice for each liter. Stir until dissolved. Add fruit scraps. Cover with breathable cloth, rubber band / string. Sit in a dark place or swaddle. Stir every day or so and check fruit is submerged. Don’t worry about any yeasty white bloom. After a week or so, when the liquid has turned dark, strain and remove fruit. Pour back into original jar. Add a couple of tablespoons of liquid vinegar mother / MOV. Sit for 1 -4 months.
CLEANING CITRUS VINEGAR … cover scrap citrus peels with vinegar / old kombucha / old water kefir. Strain and use diluted for cleaning, add olive oil for timber cleaning, grated soap and herb tea for washing up liquid.