Monday, March 2, 2009

Make Good Use Of Fresh Meyer Lemons

Gina Harrell visited Hester & Zipperer on Wilmington Island just the other day, and we got talking about ways to use Meyer Lemons. She was kind enough to email us the following:

If you are lucky enough to have Meyer lemons, try this easy fun way to make them last. These are preserved lemons that are a common ingredient in Moroccan recipes. Here's how:
Thoroughly wash and dry lemons. Cut a small slice off the stem end. Resting the lemon on the uncut end, carefully cut it into 6 wedges, but don't cut all the way through. You should have the lemon in wedges that are still joined together at the end. Remove seeds. In a glass crock or jar, layer a lemon in on its side, and press down firmly. (the juice, of course, will squeeze out) Next, cover the lemon with a generous layer of salt (about 3 Tablespoons). Repeat this layering process, covering each lemon with salt, until you have filled the jar.
Since the Meyer lemons are so juicy, I wound up pouring some of the juice off so I could get the jar filled to the top with lemons. Pack them in tight, and then make sure there is juice enough to cover them. (if you have poured some juice off, save it in case you need to add some back) Also, make sure you put in that final layer of salt.
Now, put the lid on tightly, shake them a bit to help dissolve the salt, and let them sit at room temperature for 24 hours. After this, refrigerate. The lemons need to sit in the fridge for about 4 weeks before they are ready to use. I shook mine gently from time to time. The juice will turn syrupy when they are ready to use. These will keep 6 months or more in the fridge.
You can do this with any kind of lemons, but Meyers are the preferred type. I am including a couple of recipes that call for these lemons, but you can find lots on the web. They make an interesting addition to salads, chicken dishes, and vegetables. I used them with asparagus, and they were very good:
*Wash and snap off the tough ends of fresh asparagus. Place in a microwave safe dish and add a small amount of water. Top with a few preserved lemon slices, a sprinkle of your favorite herbs, and a couple of small pats of butter. Cover and microwave about 3-5 minutes or until desired tenderness. Remember that you do not need to add extra salt, because the lemons are very salty already.
More recipes:
Preserved Lemon Vinaigrette
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 quarter preserved lemon peel freed of pulp and chopped fine
1 shallot or mild onion chopped fine
4 - 5 Tablespoons of good olive oil (can also used walnut oil)
Put everything in a small jar with a tight lid and shake it well.
Moroccan Style Chopped Salad (from Recipezaar)
1 (15 ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 tomato, chopped
1/2 preserved lemon, chopped
1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
In a large bowl, combine chickpeas, peppers, onion, tomato, lemon and parsley and mix well.
Add garlic powder, lemon juice and oil and mix again.
Taste before adding any salt. The preserved lemon may be salty enough for the whole dish.
Allow to sit at room temperature for a half hour.
Mix again right before serving.
Meyer Lemon Curd
(uses less sugar, since the Meyers are not as tart)
3-4 medium Meyer lemons
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
Finely grate enough zest from lemons to measure 2 tsp. and squeeze enough juice to measure 1/2 cup. Whisk together zest, juice, sugar, and eggs in a metal bowl and add butter. Set bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and cook, whisking, until thickened and smooth and an instant-read thermometer registers 160, about 5 or 6 minutes. Serve warm or cover surface of curd with wax paper and cool completely.
Serve with biscuits or scones, gingerbread, in tart shells, or stirred into vanilla yogurt. May be frozen for longer storage.
Another idea for using your Meyer lemons is to juice them, and pour the juice into muffin tins in 1/4 cup portions. Freeze in the tins, then dip the bottom of the pan in hot water to loosen, and pop the frozen juices out. Now you have 1/4 cup cubes that you can put in a gallon zip top bag in the freezer to use for recipes. Grate the rind of the lemons, (a microplane zester is great for this) and put it in a small zip top bag. You can just slip this bag into the bigger bag with the juice cubes and keep them together. The frozen zest is easy to fluff up and measure out as you need for recipes.
There is a recipe for Meyer Lemon and Thyme pound cake in the most recent issue of Victoria magazine. It looks wonderful. Enjoy!
Gina Harrell

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