Posts Tagged ‘preserves’

Moroccan Preserved Lemons for Tagine

A couple of years ago, after I admired it in the Le Creuset outlet store in Williamsburg, Dan gave me a beautiful tagine (Moroccan cooking pot) for Christmas, along with a Moroccan cookbook. I haven’t used it a whole lot, but it looks great in the kitchen 😉

Tagine (Moroccan cooking pot)

I want to use it more, but it seems like most of the recipes call for preserved lemons, which I haven’t been able to find around here. Preserved lemons are used as a flavoring in Moroccan cuisine, especially stews. The preservation method softens the lemons skins, like watermelon rind pickles, and gives a sharp lemony-salty kick to the dish.

It costs $10 for two preserved lemons in a jar from an online source, which seems like a lot to me. So I’ve just kept putting it off. I’ve thought about making my own preserved lemons; there’s a recipe for them in the book. But I’ve felt uncomfortable about the idea. Would I poison us?

But then, if you look at the recipe, the lemons are brined for a month in pure lemon juice and salt. Not much could survive that environment. And since I canned homemade salsa, watermelon rind and hot peppers last summer, I feel a lot more comfortable about preserving food at home.

Then in January, Andrea of Andrea’s Recipes wrote a blog post on making preserved lemons. A couple of weeks later, another food blog I follow, Food in Jars, posted an article on preserved limes that referred to a previous post on preserved lemons. The article on preserved lemons had over 70 comments where people described different ways of using the preserves.

So finally, on March 4, I made preserved lemons. They’re still softening up in the fridge, but they should come out nicely in another 10 days or so. And they’ll keep for at least a year. Can’t wait to start using them.

Making preserved lemons

Preserved Lemons

Adapted from “Cooking at the Kasbah: Recipes from My Moroccan Kitchen” by Kitty Morse

The traditional method for preserving lemons involves cutting the lemons a different way and sprinkling salt into the cuts; I found it awkward, so I just cut the lemons into wedges. This also makes it easier to remove a small amount for a recipe.

  • 1 dozen lemons, five cut into eight wedges, the rest reserved for juicing (I bought organic lemons, since we’re eating the rind)
  • 1/2 cup pickling salt or fine sea salt (kosher salt isn’t a good choice because you want the salt to dissolve quickly)
  • 1 quart-size canning jar
  • Place the salt in a medium bowl. Press both sides of each lemon wedge into the salt and place into the canning jar. Juice the remaining lemons until the juice covers the wedges in the jar. Cover and refrigerate. Turn the jar gently every few days to redistribute the wedges. They’re ready to use after 30 days.

Quick Refrigerator Pickles: Szechuan Green Beans

The green beans have been quite prolific this year. We have a couple of pounds in the freezer and a couple of pounds in the refrigerator. This is the year I plan to experiment with more food-preserving techniques, so last year, I purchased “Put ’em Up!: A Comprehensive Home Preserving Guide for the Creative Cook, from Drying and Freezing to Canning and Pickling.” It’s full of wonderful ideas for enjoying fresh garden produce now and later.

Szechuan Pickled Green Beans
Szechuan Pickled Green Beans

This refrigerator-pickle recipe for Szechuan Green Beans intrigued me because it’s so simple. It doesn’t involve the scary-seeming boiling-water method that is generally used for canning vegetables for the relatively long term – a few months to a year. This recipe just requires covering blanched beans with a seasoned vinegary brine and keeping it in the fridge. It will last for a month and the flavor deepens every day. Yum.

Szechuan Green Beans

  • 1 pound green beans, washed, topped, and tailed
  • 1 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons dark sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon whole peppercorns, preferably Szechuan
  • 1 (1-inch) knob ginger, sliced into coins
  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced

Line several baking sheets with dish towels and set aside. Prepare an ice-water bath in a large bowl or clean sink.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Drop the beans into the water, no more than 1 pound at a time, and return to a boil. Blanch for 1 minute.

Scoop the beans out with a spider or slotted spoon and plunge them into the ice-water bath. Continue blanching in batches. Remove the beans from the ice bath with a slotted spoon and spread on the towel-covered baking sheets. Blot dry.

To make the pickles, pack the beans vertically in a quart jar.

Combine the remaining ingredients in a medium nonreactive saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer for 1 minute. Pour the hot brine over the beans to cover by 1/2 inch. Leave 1/2 inch of headspace between the top of the liquid and the lid.

Refrigerate: Cool, cover, and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.

Szechuan Pickled Green Beans with Quiche and Tomatoes

Grow Your Own: Tomato Jam

Grow Your Own 2008The heirloom and roma tomatoes we planted this year are going gangbusters now, so I’ve had to become creative about preserving them. A few weeks ago, Dan and I went to the Seawall Art Show in downtown Portsmouth. On our way home we stopped at Bowman’s Garden Center, looking for onion sets for the garden, and instead we found a variety of organic, homemade dips and spreads for sale, along with samples.

So we tried tomato jam for the first time, and it was surprisingly good. The flavor made me think of strawberry jam, although it doesn’t really taste like strawberries – just something about it was reminiscent of them. The label said it contained tomatoes, sugar, citric acid and salt. Too easy, I thought, I can make that. So we came home and I Googled around for a while, and, after reading several recipes, came up with the following one. I added a tsp. or so of vinegar at the end, because it tasted a bit too sweet to me.

I also found a great alternative to blanching tomatoes for peeling them – grating them with the big holes on a box grater! It was so easy, I could hardly believe it, and took only a few minutes to make tomato puree out of about 12 roma tomatoes. The seeds are still there, but that doesn’t bother me; according to Cook’s Illustrated, much of the tomato flavor is in the seeds and surrounding “jelly.”

Tomato Jam

1 1/2 pounds good ripe tomatoes (Roma are best), cut in half crosswise and grated
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 jalapeno pepper, finely minced (forgot about this till after I first posted – see below)
1 teaspoon salt

Combine all ingredients in a heavy medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring often. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until mixture has consistency of thick jam, about 1 hour 15 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning, then cool and refrigerate. This will keep at least a week. Makes about 2 cups.

This is my contribution to Grow Your Own, the twice-monthly blogging event created by Andrea of Andrea’s Recipes, hosted this time by Noob Cook.

ETA: Today, I took some of the tomato jam with fresh-baked biscuits to work and a co-worker asked me if there was anything hot in it. I completely forgot until that moment that Dan had suggested I chop up a jalapeno pepper from the garden and add it in for some more flavor. It’s not enough to make you go Ow, but enough to make you say, Hm, what’s in there?

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