Category Archives: Pantry

Posts featuring items that are good to always have on hand in the kitchen.

Preserved Meyer Lemons

Preserved Meyer Lemons
I almost missed Meyer lemon season again. Fortunately, while cleaning out the refrigerator last week I came across last year’s empty jar of preserved lemons. I left it in there because it had quite a bit of lemon flavored brine in it that I thought might work to add to the new batch of lemons.

Meyer lemonsAfter getting a few pounds of lemons and washing them, I left them in a bowl on the kitchen counter for a couple of days. They are so fragrant they filled the whole kitchen with a lemony floral aroma. It was almost a shame to have to cut them up and stuff them in jars.

Meyer lemon spicesThere isn’t much of a recipe here. Add some spices to the jars. This year I added a couple of allspice berries, a pinch of sugar, a few peppercorns, a couple pinches of hot red pepper flakes, and a bay leaf. I used some cloves last year, but felt their strong flavor kind of limited the range of dishes I could use the lemons in. I left them out this year.

 

 

Slice the lemons in quarters lengthwise, but don’t cut all the way through the end. Leave them slightly attached so you can coat the inside with salt. Just add a big pinch of kosher salt in between the slices, gently squeeze the lemon back together, rub some salt around the outside and then place in to the jar.
Once the jar was full of lemons I sprinkled a bit more salt on top, then poured half of the remainder of last year’s brine into each jar. They weren’t quite full, so a squeeze of juice from a couple of the left over lemons brought the juice up to the top of the jar.
Put the lid on and then place in the refrigerator for 2 or 3 weeks and then they should be ready to use.

My batch last year lasted for almost a year. To use, just take a piece out of the jar, pull the peel away from the flesh and finely slice or dice the peel.  These are great to use in any dish that could use a little extra punch of citrus or salt. I use them all the time in lentils, curry dishes, braised kale, lamb dishes, etc. It’s a great staple to have in the pantry to give an extra zing to otherwise ordinary dishes.

Sourdough Starter

Sourdough Starter

 

Sourdough StarterA few months ago I started an experiment in bread baking. I had been using the basic bread ratio in Michael Ruhlman’s Ratio cookbook. It gave consistent results, but it was never quite what I wanted from bread. The texture was a bit too dense, it was low on flavor and it didn’t have any of those nooks and crannies that an artisan loaf should have. No matter how I tweaked the rising times, baking times and oven temperatures I couldn’t get what I was looking for.

So I decided to strike out on my own and see what I could come up with using no recipes and a homemade sourdough starter. The first hurdle was getting the starter. I read quite a few articles saying that it was just mixing flour and water, feeding it every day, and in 3-5 days the starter should be ready to make bread. The first attempt resulted in a pile of paste after 5 days. A few weeks later I tried again, feeding every day and monitoring the temperature where it was sitting. After 3 or 4 days I saw a few bubbles and thought it was on the right track, but after a week it settled down and I assumed whatever had been living there briefly had died. So I went back to the Ruhlman ratio. Continue reading