In the next few weeks, I’m going to be doing something a little different around here.
We all know how stressful the holidays can be, what having to buy gifts for not only your immediate family, but your in-laws, close friends, grandparents, and somehow you always end up getting a few things for people you’re not even sure why you bought for. I know I have a hard time figuring out how to make it all work while still being able to afford my rent and groceries.
We all know a homemade gift is cherished much more than something you swiped some plastic for, so in the weeks coming up to the big day, I’m going to give you some really great, as far as I’m concerned, homemade gifts you can create for very cheap to moderate prices for the food-lover, kitchen-guru or host(ess) in your lives. We’re not talking macaroni animals or painted egg ornaments here either, I promise. I’m going to try my best to keep the posts short and to the point since I know it’s not the easiest time of the year to lounge around reading.
First up on the list, Salt Preserved Lemons and Oranges. If you’re not sure what those are, I don’t blame you. I wasn’t so knowledgable about them a while back, either. Preserving citrus gives you an easy way to add tons of lemon/orange flavour to a dish without using very much. They’re preserved in a salt-brine and after hanging out in a jar for a month, the skins are soft and ready to be minced into your favourite dish. The uses for preserved citrus are endless, you can add them to couscous with roasted vegetables, mince into fresh salsa, chop up with green olives and garlic to garnish fish or chicken, garnish ice cream or a dirty martini, in a gremolata… I’m sure you can use your imagination here. Why preserve the citrus, you ask? Preserved citrus is to fresh what smoked meats are to raw meats. Still delicious, but with more depth, more flavour.
Give your food-loving friends a jar of these with a tag that explains some uses for them and I’m sure they won’t be disappointed.
Preserved Lemons and Oranges
I kept mine pretty simple and didn’t add any extra aromatics, but if you choose to, they would add another dimension of yummyness!
Since you’re intending for your friends/family to eat the rind of these, you should really try to buy organic or unsprayed cirtus.
2-3 medium-sized jars
2 of the smallest lemons you can find (Meyer would be great, but I wasn’t able to find any)
1 extra lemon for juice
3/4 cup or more of your favourite coarse salt (this is a good place to use that jar you’ve been saving)
small chili pepper (optional)
bay leaf (optional)
Working over a bowl, slice the pointy tip off the lemons. Slice in half from the bottom to top, and then slice each half again, from bottom to top.
Scrub each lemon slice really well with salt. Press into jar and give another good sprinkle of salt. Repeat until your jar is packed firmly with lemons. Give them one more generous sprinkle of salt and slice/squeeze the remaining lemon’s juice over the jar. Press them in there really good. Pour remaining juice and salt from the bowl into the jars.
Repeat the same process with the oranges.
Close the jars and place in the fridge over night. For the next 2-3 days, open the jar once a day and press the lemons/oranges down to help release the juices. Refrigerate for at least a month before use (tip: write the “Open On” date on the jar so your giftee knows when they are ready!)
When ready to use, they should be rinsed off well and the meat of the lemon should be removed. You only need a little rind, minced well, to pack a whole lotta cirtus flavour into dishes.