Citrons Confits

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Preparation info

    • Difficulty

      Easy

Appears in

Food of the Sun: A Fresh Look at Mediterranean Cooking

Food of the Sun

By Alastair Little and Richard Whittington

Published 1995

  • About

We tend to think of salt-preserved lemons as being Moroccan, though they are popular throughout North Africa. They are offered as a side dish straight from the pickle jar or are cut up and added to stews to give them a sharp, astringent edge. In this context, a little goes a long way and a heavy hand will result in an inedibly salty dish. They are easy to make and go particularly well with lamb. Always use ripe lemons - or limes, which can be salt-pickled in exactly the same way.

The majority of lemons sold in this country are coated with a chemically treated wax to lengthen their shelf-life. For any dish in which they are used whole or their zest is used, this coating needs to be removed by vigorous scrubbing in hot soapy water, followed by a thorough rinse. However, many supermarkets now sell organic uncoated fruit, which is preferable - if more expensive.

Ingredients

  • 1.35 kg/3 lb scrubbed or uncoated lemons or limes (see introduction)
  • 170 g/6 oz sea salt

Method

Preparation

On a board, hold a lemon or lime upright with the stem downwards and cut in half, stopping just before the stem. Cut down at right angles to the first cut, again almost to the base. You now have 4 quarters attached at the stem.

Open them up and spoon salt on the cut surfaces. Close the quarters back together and repeat with the remaining fruit.

Pack into a large kilner jar, or similar, and sprinkle the remaining salt over. Refrigerate for a minimum of 4 weeks, by which time the juice of the fruit will have made a brine with the salt and the peel will be fully pickled.

It is the skin, cut into strips, that you want to serve. Discard the pulp or liquidize it and add sparingly to marinades or stews.

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