Thursday, March 25, 2010

little bites of sunshine...

my friend has the most glorious ranch in the Santa Ynez valley that has on it the most glorious free-range, milk fed cattle. But this post is not about her fabulous beef, that story is to come later, but it's about her meyer lemon tree that is so fruitful it is more yellow than green.

this is how many lemons I started with

On a recent visit to said ranch for a little Sunday afternoon horseback riding she brought out a standard grocery bag and we proceeded to fill it, I mean fill it with lemons. The lady of the house, my friend's grandmother, had planted this tree when she first bought the ranch decades ago. As it grew and produced more offspring, she perfected a secret lemonade recipe that is simply outstanding. The thought of recreating this recipe and using all of the lemons this way was truly tempting, but just not quite enough of a challenge.

So, I decided to make some long-lasting, versatile ingredients that I could make in large quantities, I mean look at all of those lemons! This way, when the apocalyse hits, I will at least be prepared with my sweet and savory lemons. However, both of these recipes could have been made in single batches with just a few lemons.

Lemon curd is a childhood favorite of mine. My mother used to make it every once in a while and we would eat it by the spoonful, maybe with blueberries, but most likely just on its own. My favorite thing to do with the curd now is to pour it into a tart shell and enjoy it by the slice. But I also like to serve it in ramikens with ginger cookies and it's even spellbinding on toast.

My desire to jaunt into the savory brought me to preserve many of my lemons in salt, a fate they will hold for the next three to six months, at which point I once heard that tasting them will be like seeing God. I don't know what seeing God is like, but it sounds pretty good to me.

this is how many lemons I had after the curd...yeah, I've got a lot of work to do...

Preserved lemons are commonly used in Moroccan cooking, but also go well when minced and sprinkled on salads. They have a beguiling flavor that is well worth the long wait it takes before they are ready.


lemon curd
makes about a cup

1/2 c freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tsp lemon zest
1/2 c sugar
6 Tbsp butter
3 eggs plus an extra egg yolk

- in a heavy saucepan, over medium heat whisk together the lemon juice, zest and sugar.
- add in the butter and cook until melted
- add the eggs slowly while whisking rapidly, this will avoid too much scalded egg
- keep stirring frequently until the first bubbles start to appear and the whisk lines don't immediately disappear.
- immediately pour the mixture through a fine meshed sieve into a small bowl
- place plastic wrap on the surface of the curve (so a skin doesn't form) and refrigerate for at least an hour
curd will keep refrigerated for a week, or you can can it and it will last indefinitely.

moroccan style preserved lemons

3-4 lemons
3 cups of kosher salt 
optional: a cinnamon stick or cloves
a large, wide-mouthed jar

- place 3/4 inch salt in the bottom of your jar
- slice the lemons into four wedges lengthwise
- fit the lemon wedges into the jar as snuggly as possible, but without the slices sticking back together
- pour the rest of the salt over the lemons so that they are completely covered
- leave covered for at least a month, but they only get better with time so try to at least wait three months, or better yet 6-9 months and then maybe you too will see God...


  1. Lovely post. It's a little ray of sunshine itself. Will you post (in a month) some recipes for what to do with the preserved lemons. I have some, but I never use them.

  2. Are preserved lemons of the non-Meyer variety as good? I may try this... after I recover from my lemon cupcake hangover :-)

  3. Lindsey - Any type of lemon will preserve well, meyers are just known for exceptional flavor, sweetness and juice.

    Lil - I will definitely post recipes dealing with preserved lemons, thanks for the we just have to wait a bunch o' months!