Wednesday, October 09, 2013

It's that canning time of year!

Canning is a heck of a lot of work. Washing, peeling, chopping, boiling, stirring, straining, pouring, sealing, water bathing and labelling. Not to mention picking! But oh, the rewards of opening a jar during a cold prairie winter and discovering a taste of summer.

Over the years, I have canned the bounty of Saskatchewan from cucumbers (aka pickles) to black currant jam. Corn salsa to chokecherry syrup. Rhubarb to honeyed pears. However, one of my favourite items preserved in a jar is also the most unlikely: lemons.

A friend grew the lemons in his greenhouse near Saskatoon. I preserved them in a Moroccan style with plenty of course salt (yes, Saskatchewan salt). This method of preserving breaks down the lemon peel, which is then used (not the juice) in Moroccan recipes. It adds an exotic touch to Saskatchewan ingredients such as lamb and chickpea stew or couscous with roasted squash.

Preserved Lemons
5-6 lemons, preferably organic
1/4 cup rock salt (un-iodized)
1 cinnamon stick
3 cloves
6-8 coriander seeds
3-4 black peppercorns
1 bay leaf

Cut the lemons in half. Then, cut them ALMOST into quarters, in other words don’t slice all the way through.

Press one section of lemon into the bottom of the jar, releasing the juice. Sprinkle with salt. Press a few more slices on top, sprinkling with salt as you go along. Put the cinnamon, cloves, coriander, peppercorns and bay leaf into the jar. Continue pressing in lemon sections, releasing the juice and sprinkling with salt, until all the lemons are in the jar.

The lemons should be completely covered with lemon juice. If they are not covered, add some extra juice or water. Secure the lid and refrigerate, shaking now and then. Allow the lemons to marinate at least one month before using. If you want to be super simple, you can skip the spices and just use the salt.

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