Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Quick Preserved Lemons and Limoncello

Our citrus trees are so laden the branches are threatening to break, so I've been making preserved lemons and limes, some to give as gifts but most to have in my second pantry (how many people have two large pantries? My excuse is that I buy in bulk. .) in the garage so I always have them on hand. Increasingly I've been using them to flavour rice and lentil dishes, couscous, quinoa and other grain dishes - also fish, vegetable stews, casseroles and chopping them into quick dips or even soups.
Traditional preserved lemons (lots of rock salt, water, juice and a bit of olive oil) are good, but  I find that adding some sugar makes them more versatile and it's my favourite method, at least at the moment. I've also found that having to wait about 3 months before my efforts lose that 'raw' taste can be a bit frustrating when you haven't got any left from last year. The longer you can leave them the better, of course.
So - what to do? Well, I started wondering if I could short-cut the process. I made some incisions through the rind, from top to bottom, just to the flesh but no more. Then I boiled them with quite a lot of fine table salt for about 30 minutes, or until very soft. When they were cool I scooped the flesh from the rind and discarded it - then packed the rind into clean sterilised jars and covered them with a hot sugar/vinegar/salt mixture, with 1cm olive oil on top and left them for three days.. Already they taste very good, hardly distinguishable from the ones I've been waiting 3 months for! I might have something here. . .

The other thing of course is limoncello - I had 2 full bottles of duty free vodka ready to go but unfortunately the burglars got away with that, so had to re-stock. It's brewing away nicely now, always a talking point and of course a delicious aperitif. I don't like liqueurs that are syrupy sweet, so I've cut the sugar right back and am pleased with the results I've had for a few years now. You only need the rind (zest) of the lemons for this, but the juice can always be frozen or used to make other things like lemon 'curd' etc.
Looking forward to tasting the Kumquats, have made yet another double batch of Life's Too Short Marmalade and have promised myself I won't give any more away. . .

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