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Main | The risotto files »

December 12, 2005

If you've got lemons...


Make... preserved lemons?

Whenever I go to the St. Lawrence Market, I like to take a gander at whatever new, interesting things might be available.  This is especially true of the produce vendors, where each season brings (or should I say, returns?) lost, but not forgotten, flavours to the kitchen.  True, most produce is available year-round, but there's something more enjoyable about eating foods in season.  I don't mean this to sound snobbish, nor do I believe that food eaten out of season cannot be enjoyed, it's just that things anticipated longest are often enjoyed most.

But I digress....

What I was going to say is that I found newly arrived Meyer lemons at the organic greengrocer.  Keep in mind that up until last year I'd wondered if Meyer lemons were available anywhere in Toronto.  Now I know of two places that sell them, but they are available in limited quantities for a limited time, so I seized the opportunity and bought more than two kilos without having any idea how I would use them. 

As my wife knows all too well, making rash food purchases is just how I roll, because my desire to purchase an ingredient is always inversely proportional to its availability.  Typical conversations go something like this: 

"Fennel pollen at $30 US for twenty-eight grams?  We have to get that."

"Rob," she'll reply, "what would you use it for?"

"I don't know, but I can figure something out."  Then I buy it.  By the way, does anyone have any recipes that include fennel pollen?  I still have, ohhhh, twenty-eight grams waiting to be used.

But back to the lemons.  What to do, what to do?  Then it occurred to me: I remembered a meal my wife and I shared at Mario Batali's Roman-style trattoria, Lupa, on a recent trip to New York.  We shared a trout dish made with preserved lemons.  I remember the dish because the preserved lemons in it tasted vividly like Creamsicle, and, damn, do I love Creamsicles.  Now, that doesn't mean I really liked the dish -- trout and Creamsicle is, let's say, an acquired taste -- but I loved that flavour.  I own a small library of Batali's cookbooks, and, sure enough, The Babbo Cookbook contains his recipe for preserved lemons.  So, off to the kitchen I went.

Making preserved lemons couldn't be easier.  After all, you really only need two ingredients: lemons and salt.  I did a little research, and found similar recipes by Jamie Oliver and Christine Cushing, but they used other flavourings (things like peppercorns, cinnamon, and bay leaves), whereas I thought it best to stick to basics on my first kick at this can.

Thanks to my KitchenAid stand mixer with the handy juicer attachment, it took me no more than a few minutes to assemble the juice and the lemons.  All I did was create two perpendicular vertical cuts in each lemon, then I covered the lemon in salt, paying particular attention to salting inside cuts.

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For every lemon I cut and salted, I added the juice of one lemon to my storage jar.  I also added the juice of one extra lemon, to ensure that my lemons were completely covered in brine.  Then I packed the lemons as tightly as possible into the jar.


The only thing I dislike about this recipe is that I now have to wait a month before sampling.  Let's just say delayed gratification is not really my thing.

I'll be sure to update this post when I finally sample the end product.

In the meantime, I just need to figure out what to do with the ten remaining Meyer lemons sitting in my fridge....


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i love the tangy flavor of preserved lemons.

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