It seems this year we had a bumper crop of citrus locally. Bob and I live in a neighborhood in which several of our neighbors have lemon, lime and orange trees. This year several of our neighbors put their fruit out for anyone to take. Because we live in a condo complex without any fruit trees, I was ecstatic. What a way to help someone cull down their fruit so it doesn't go bad, and we get to enjoy the bounty of Meyer and Eureka lemons, limes and navel oranges!
Too Big a Bounty?
When my eyes got too big for our counter — we have lots of citrus sitting out — I had to do something with them. In the past I wrote past post about preserving citrus. The simplest way is with salt — an ancient tradition that food historians think started in the Middle East. People throughout that part of the world and in the countries of Northern Africa also have this tradition. This time, I preserved them using a recipe from an ancient cooking class that Bob took.
School of Cooking
Way back when we were first starting our business, Bob was under lots of stress. Because he always liked to cook (and to get him out of the house for a few hours and to take his mind off his worries), I suggested cooking school. We found one in Sunnyvale, California, called "Mon Cherie" and he took several classes from Sharon Shipley, the owner.
Sadly, Mon Cherie is not a local resource anymore — Sharon passed on in 2005. But we still have copies of the recipes in binders (yes, we have binders full of recipes, just like Mitt Romney has binders full of women). Occasionally, I use some of the recipes, one of which is for Sharon's preserved lemons.
Nutritional Lemon Peel
Healthline.com reveals that lemon peels have bioactive compounds that may have health benefits: the peel from one lemon is loaded with vitamin C — only 1 tablespoon of zest has 9 percent of the daily value. It may support oral health. Of course, it is high in antioxidants and, there is some evidence that it might even help boost your immune system.
After boiling the four large lemons and one lime for about 5 minutes, I cut them into narrow slices and layered them in a jar with a mixture of salt, sugar, minced garlic and chopped shallot. I alternated the layers — lemon and lime slices, salt mixture, lemon and lime slices, salt mixture, and pressed the layers down. Once the jar was full, I poured olive oil on top to about a half inch and sealed it closed.
How to use preserved lemons
After about a day with this recipe, the lemons are ready to be used. Dig out whatever quantity you need and pull the peel away from the pulp. Rinse off the salt mixture and chop it up. The peel is ready to be used.
This recipe is a little more fussy than the simple preserve with salt method. But it yields lemon peels that are subtly sweet, garlicky, salty, with an aroma of shallots, ready to be chopped up and used in all types of dishes, as a condiment for grilled meats or fish, to add a little zip to green salads, or to stir into pasta side dishes.