Tag Archives: lemon tree

Preserved Lemons

I always like to keep a constant supply of what I call my must-have store cupboard essentials, like home-made vanilla products, dried tomatoes, preserves etc.  Even though I refer to them as store cupboard items, some need refrigeration, as living in the middle east does not allow for a cool enough pantry or store cupboard.

Used in Moroccan and North African cooking, preserved lemons are an indispensable and wonderful item to have… at a moments notice food can take on a new dimension both in flavour and taste by adding small amounts of preserved lemons to salad dressings, salads, stews, relishes, pizza toppings, stuffings, marinades and so much more.

When I started preserving lemons I remember following a recipe that used so much salt that I found them inedible and quite horrible, throwing the whole lot in the bin and not thinking much of preserved lemons.

Before satellite TV came to Bahrain my parents would record cookery programs for me and send them by post. Dad was usually in charge of editing but I could always tell when he had nodded off on the job, leaving me to watch cookery programs along with long TV commercials and bits of other programs. And it was in one of those recorded cookery programs I gave preserved lemons another chance… and if you have never tried making them before, it is so worth the effort!

A little goes a long way with preserved lemons, which are salty, tart and intensely flavoursome and when it comes to slicing and dicing the preserved lemons, a good sharp knife is a must, obtaining the finest results.

With a lemon tree (two years) growing in the garden I would so like to tell you that I am using my own organic lemons, but will have to wait until next year… all my lovely little lemons this year turned black and fell off 😦  I am still not giving up… so fingers crossed for next year.

Preserved Lemons - Diced and Sliced

 Preserved Lemons

Ingredients:

  • 5 lemons, (see note below if not using organic or un-waxed lemons)
  • 5 rounded tablespoons of sea salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 5 cloves
  • 1 small cinnamon stick
  • 2 fresh or dried bay leaf
  • extra juice of 3 or 4 lemon (zest beforehand and use in another recipe or dry the peel)
  • olive oil

You will need a suitable preserving jar with a tight fitting lid.

How to make: Using a sharp knife cut the lemons lengthways into 4 quarters, stopping just about 1/2cm before the stem, keeping the lemon quarters intact. Open the lemons up a little and place a rounded tablespoon of salt into the middle of each lemon. Tightly pack all the lemons into a clean sterilized jar, adding the mustard seeds, black peppercorns, cloves, cinnamon stick and bay leaf. Cover the jar with a lid and set aside for several hours, by this time the lemons will start to release a little of their juices.

Open up the jar and using the back of a small ladle, push the lemons down into the jar, helping to release more juice. Pour in the extra lemon juice to fully cover the lemons. Pour a thin layer of olive oil over the surface of the lemon juice and cover with a lid.

Store in the refrigerator for one month before using! When using the preserved lemons remove the pulp and dice or slice the required amount. The pulp can be liquidized and used sparingly in marinades, stews or discarded if wished. Use lemons within six months.

Tip: To help remove and melt the wax from lemons; place lemons into a heatproof bowl and pour over some very hot (not boiling) water. Leave the lemons to sit for a minute or two. Remove the lemons using a slotted spoon or tongs and immediately dry the warm lemons by rubbing them with some kitchen paper or a clean lint free tea towel.

Try using different whole spices like, fennel seeds, cumin, coriander seeds, cardamon pods allspice and star anise, you could also add whole dried chilli.

Have you made or used preserved lemons before? What is your favourite way of using them?

lemon and fresh thyme posset shooter

Once again Jennifer (Delicieux) is hosting this months “Sweet Adventures Blog Hop” and the theme,“lemons.”  I was ready to submit an earlier post on the magical stages of a developing lemon... when I just realized no older posts would be accepted on the blog hop…darn!

A quick re-think and a scan over some ingredients already stocked in the kitchen… lemon posset came to mind.

Lemon posset is a dessert based on a very old British medieval drink called a posset. This drink was made by heating milk, then curdling with an acid such as wine or ale. The hot posset was also used for minor aliments such as the common cold and was often spiced with ginger and aniseed.

Even William Shakespeare’s Macbeth makes reference to this medieval drink when Lady Macbeth uses poisoned possets to knock out the guards outside Duncan’s palace

“The doors are open, and the surfeited grooms

Do mock their charge with snores. I have drugg’d their possets

That death and nature do contend about them,

Whether they live or die.”

Fast forward to the 20th century and posset is a smooth and  luxurious tangy-sweet lemony thickened cream that is chilled and best served in small quantities. A super easy do-ahead dessert for dinner parties. Like Lady Macbeth I hope to knock out (figuratively speaking) my guests bydrugg’d their (my guests) possets with this deliriously lemony dessert shooter with a hint of fresh garden thyme.

Lemon and Fresh Thyme Posset Shooters

Ingredients:

  • 250ml double cream or whipping cream (min fat 35%)
  • 75g granulated sugar
  • 5 sprigs of fresh thyme (optional)
  • zest half of a lemon
  • juice of one lemon
  • thyme leaves to garnish and/or some grated lemon zest

You will need 6 small shot type glasses, the recipe can easily be doubled if you require a larger quantity.

How to make:

Pour the cream into a heavy based saucepan. Add the sugar and fresh thyme. Over a medium heat dissolve the sugar in the cream while stirring continuously. Let the cream come to a gentle boil (do not let the cream boil over), reduce the heat and simmer the cream for three minutes.

Remove the saucepan from the heat, stir in the lemon juice (this will thicken the cream) and lemon zest. Let cool for about 5 minutes, remove the thyme sprigs and pour into 6 small shot glasses. Once cool cover and refrigerate for about 4 hours (will thicken further) or overnight.

Before serving (straight from the fridge) scatter over a few thyme leaves and/or grated lemon zest.

Note: Do not use cream that has a lower fat content than 35% or the cream will curdle when you add the lemon juice. Ideally double cream which has a much higher fat content should be used which will result in a creamier and thicker setting posset.

Using a microplane zester (my star zester) will give the best results for obtaining a very fine grating of lemon zest.

This post is part of the “Sweet Adventures Blog Hop,” click (here) and check out all the other lemon dessert entries!

the lemon tree

Gardening in Bahrain definitely poses some great challenges and if you are “no expert” like me, then gardening can become quite exhausting at times! However, I do try my hand at keeping a few edibles in the garden such as herbs, lemons, limes (still waiting), dates, lemongrass and some baby tomatoes.

What I absolutely love about gardening and especially this time of year, is witnessing the first stages of growth… then watching that new beginning transform into an edible culinary ingredient that has endless possibilities both in cooking and baking!

Two years ago I planted a lemon tree (which was quite big to begin with) into a very large pot and was very excited at the prospect of growing my own organic lemons! Sigh… last year I ended up with about five lemons! It was quite a painful sight, seeing lots of new buds (potential lemons) fall to the ground and realize that my efforts of successfully growing lemons was not to be! So now you know that this post is not going to be about  how to grow lemons…  but a glimpse into the new beginnings within the garden that sometimes we fail to notice as our busy lives consume our every waking hour. This year I am feeling more hopeful with each new stage of growth on my lemon tree! So take a moment, marvel and appreciate the life of a lemon…

 Buds

The amount of buds growing on the lemon tree will determine the volume of fruit it produces… if of course they don’t fall… like mine did last year! Apparently you need to underwater at this stage.

Flowers

The buds of the lemon tree blossom and the flowers exude an intoxicating soft lemony perfume that fills the surrounding air…and what an amazing scent it is!

 Ripening Fruit

The flower is in bloom and peeking out from its center is the developing lemon!

Lemons need plenty of water at this stage of growth so the fruit becomes full and juicy.
This was one of last years lemons which seemed to take so long to ripen… !
 
My quest to successfully grow lemons will continue!  In the mean time, if anyone out there in cyber space is an expert on the subject of citrus trees I would love your advice!

You might like to try some recipes using lemons. Click on image for recipes!

%d bloggers like this: