I spent the past weekend at my folks’ house. I arrived home to a brand new pair of sheep skin slippers, cat cuddles and days and days of home cooking. On Saturday we had a family get-together. There were 21 adults and 35 children (I don’t know how the mathematics of procreation works but it seemed excessive). Together we devoured a whole lamb – perfectly cooked for hours over a fire. During the afternoon some of the children engaged in a life and death vegetable battle. This involved plundering my dad’s vegetable garden for lemon and tomato ammunition. By the end of the two hour siege only a few lemons remained on the upper branches of the lemon tree. Unfortunately there were no tomato survivors. We gathered up the abandoned lemon hand grenades and mortar shells in a box and tucked them away in the kitchen. On my last afternoon at home I decided to bottle some of the lemons. I will be able to enjoy them for months to come and remember the great Lemon and Tomato War of 2014.
(Before I started making this preserve, my dad made me a gin and tonic with a slice of lemon. This is also a wonderful and perfectly acceptable way to use up excess lemons!)
Easy peasy lemon preserve
- A canning jar (I used this Consol jar but any other jar will do)
- 1 cup salt
- 6-10 lemons (eyeball enough to fill your jar and extra for juicing)
- A tablespoon of whole peppercorns
1. Start off by placing a quarter of your salt and half your peppercorns in the canning jar.
2. Top and tail the lemons by cutting the ends off. Standing the lemons on one end, cut an X through the lemon. Make sure not to cut all the way through the lemons. You want them to hold their shape. Sprinkle salt between the lemon segments. 3. Place the lemons in the jar. Press them into the salt and peppercorns. Once the jar is full, squeeze extra lemon juice over the lemons until they are submerged. Pour the remaining salt and peppercorns into the jar.
4. Leave the jar at room temperature for three days. Flip it over each morning. This will help the salt dissolve and get into every nook and cranny of the lemons. After three days put the jar at the back of the fridge (behind the unloved jams and pickles) and forget about it for three weeks. It will be ready to eat once the lemon rind is soft. When they are ready (and you are hungry) grab a lemon out the jar and cut as much as you need. Rinse it under cool water to remove the salt and salty lemon juice brine. Cut it up finely and enjoy.
Not sure what you can use the preserve for? Try them finely chopped in tuna salad or in a salad dressing. Smitten Kitchen has a wonderful squash and chickpea Moroccan stew that calls for them.