Citrus Salts

I have been whizzing up all sorts of citrus & veggies into delectable gourmet citrus salts. So quick, so easy, and a good way to make use of small quantities of tasty things – and then you have a whole flavour bank to choose from while cooking up a storm!

What you need:

Small quantities of vegetables such as celeriac (especially forgotten celeriacs starting to dry out in the veggie basket!), parsnips, garlic (can’t have enough of it) and onions, herbs of all kinds to suit your taste.

One and twos of oranges, lemons, limes…whatever you can get your hands on, even bergamots of you are lucky enough to have them.

Relatively fine grained, pure (no additives!) salt*.

What you do:

Peel/skin and roughly chop your collection of vegetables and place them in a food processor or blender.

Add the zest of whatever citrus you are using and some of the juice if you like – not too much, though, otherwise your salt mixture will take ages to dry out again.

Add the same quantity of relatively fine pure (no additives!) salt* as you have of the other ingredients (50% salt, 50% other ingredients). Whizz everything up together until you have a fine, even mix. Spread your salt mixture out thinly on a large baking tray or similar and either leave to dry on the heating or in the oven at 50°C, with a wooden spoon holding the oven door ajar, for 2-3 hours.

Once the salt is completely dry, whizz it again in the food processor to break up any dried lumps and store in airtight glass jars.

My current combinations:

Lemon & Lime & Garlic & Celeriac Salt

Bergamot & Orange & Garlic & Celeriac & Parsley salt

Lemon & Parsnip & Parsley & Garlic Salt

being used to flavour everything from soups & salads, pastry & breads to mains & sides.

*salt: quality matters here and I prefer rock salt over sea salt, on account of us having allowed microplastic to have completely pervaded our oceans: up to 1800 microgramms of microplastic per kilogram of Fleur du Sel, for example, detected in a study published in January 2018 by scientists at the University of Oldenburg, Germany.

Bergamots

I do love to make a new discovery and proudly present my citrus discovery for January 2018:

 

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Bergamots,

and what wonderful little gems they are.

Reliably identified as the sour orange hybrid Citrus bergamia Risso,  I discovered them at my organic market this week, imported from Morrocco (this is the only time of year where I am to be found blogging about imported produce!), and I snapped them up purely out of curiosity.

 

And I am so glad I did!

“Grapefruit overtones, a spicy galangal-like punch (which calms down once cooked), as well as orange and lemon nuancing in the background, becoming lingering lime once cooked”.

That is my bergamot sound bite.

And this is what I have done with them so far: a classic soft set marmalade of delectable dimensions 🙂

 

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Spring in the South

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Orchards and groves: close relatives, worked, or working, trees, they occur throughout Europe as both rich habitats and heritage features in the landscape.

Meadow in May P1200053

 

 

 

 

 

I am paraphrasing Ian Rotherham of Sheffield Hallam University here – a man far more knowledgable than I on the misunderstood and threatened resources that are orchards and groves. (Orchards and Groves: Their History, Ecology, Culture and Archaeology, Landscape Archaeology and Ecology, Vol. 7, 2008, published by Wildtrack Publishing).

I do know how to appreciate them, though, and was privileged to be able to visit the almond, citrus and olive groves of southern Spain’s Andalusia at the beginning of March – a pre-season dose of spring for this traditional orchard fan(atic) from north of the Alps!

In fact, with elements of spring, summer and autumn all happening at once, it was a real feast for the senses!

Some almonds in blossom, some already fruiting, depending on location and elevation.

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Citrus, ripe for the picking and on your doorstep, literally…

Magnificent, majestic symbols of the heritage of which they form part: olive trees,

many still resplendent with olives as the harvest season draws to a close.

The feast for the senses continues at Malaga’s main food market: olives, almonds and so much more, by the bucket load!

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With many elements of local distinctiveness on offer too!

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Carrot Jam

This is a recipe that has grown out of a task I took on last autumn: volunteer vegetable photographer  for our community supported agriculture initiative here where we live in Germany. A nice gallery of veggie photos we have built up in the process too: Veggie Gallery.

And, while the orchard is enjoying its winter rest, I have been pickling and preserving my way through the produce 🙂

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Carrot Jam

 In the Orient a classic, for us, something different for the breakfast table

1kg carrots, peeled and grated

Zest and juice of 1 untreated lemon

Zest and juice of 2 untreated oranges

2 tsp ground cinnamon

Pinch of ground cloves

½ tsp crushed cardamom seeds

500 g brown sugar

250 ml apple juice (naturally cloudy i.e. unfiltered)

 

  1. Combine the grated carrots with the sugar in a bowl, cover and leave to draw overnight.
  2. The next day, place the carrots and sugar in a large saucepan together with the remaining ingredients and stir over a low heat until the sugar has completely dissolved.
  3. Bring to the boil over a medium heat, remove the lid and boil for 30 to 60 minutes until the liquid has reduced to the consistency of jam (test for a set if you want to be sure).
  4. Place in sterilised jars and seal immediately. Keeps for several months if stored in a cool, dark place.

 

Makes about 1.3 kg

Preserved lemons and Garlic Mustard Pesto

Remember those Preserved Lemons from back in February?

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Well, its May and that means its time to get them out of the cellar – the lemons are now well and truly preserved in their lemony brine and one of the things I love using them for at this time of the year is

Garlic Mustard Pesto

(alternative nut-free version here)

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Preparation time: about 10 minutes

Cooking time: none

Serves: 4

Garlic mustard (also known as

Jack by the Hedge,

or alternatively use wild garlic)      50g of leaves (and blossoms if in flower)

Lemon (organic)                           1 (or 1 to 2 teaspoons of preserved lemon brine, according to taste)

Whole almonds, toasted               50g

Olive oil                                         150ml                                        

Honey (or sugar)                           approx. 1 tsp

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Remove the garlic mustard leaves from the stalks, rinse and place in a liquidizer together with the toasted almonds.

2. Halve the lemon and squeeze out the juice.

3. Add the olive oil to the garlic mustard leaves and whizz together in the liquidizer.

4. Season with lemon juice (or brine), honey (or sugar), salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste, whizzing thoroughly to produce a pesto-like consistency.

Garlic Mustard PestoPreserved Lemons are also great in Garlic and Tomato Butter

06_05_2013 Garlic Mustard Butter

Marmalade Moments and Secret Ingredients

Marmalade 2a lo res

This is for those whose orange marmalade did not achieve a set like that in this picture of perfection…

(image courtesy of www.taylorsphotosafaris.co.uk)

for whatever reason… and there are enough experts out there who can tell you how to have a second go at getting a set (re-boil, add more lemon juice and re-boil, etc)…

 I am here to tell you what you can do with those jars of orange-flavoured syrup with the tasty chunks of citrus:

Do not chuck them out, whatever you do!

 Orange marmalade that did not set is a blessing in disguise and the secret ingredient for:

 – a delicious braised red cabbage with a classy touch

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– slow-roasted rhubarb – a really delicious treat and if you need a recipe to guide you here it is:

 08_05_2013 Slow Roasted Rhubarb with Orange Marmalade (2)

Orange Roasted Rhubarb

Prep. Time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: approx. 1 hour

Serves: 2

Fresh rhubarb, rinsed and sliced into bite-sized chunks  500g

Orange marmalade, preferably homemade                     250g

  1. Preheat the oven to 140°C.
  2. Combine the rhubarb with the marmalade in a bowl and mix well so that the rhubarb chunks are well-covered in marmalade.
  3. Tip into a baking dish, cover with foil and slow roast in the oven until the rhubarb is nice and tender – about 1 hour.
  4. Remove from the oven and serve hot as is or accompanied by a dollop of crème fraîche or a scoop of ice cream

P.S. and of course you can make this even if your marmalade did set 🙂

Citrus and spice and all things nice…

Lemon Curd

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Received this week as a gift from one of my faithful blog followers here in Franconia… What a lovely – and delicious – surprise, just like Mum used to make it (takes me right back here: memory’s myth land) and it pairs up really well with Hazelnut Crispbreads.

Thank you so much Karin!

 And the citrus hasn’t stopped there: I am currently working my way through a treasure of a cookbook received as a gift last autumn:

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Preserving, by Emma Macdonald

of The Bay Tree fame, published by Nourish Books 2014

The photography is classy, the recipes (both classic and contemporary) truly inspirational.

 (And just for the record: apart from owning the book, I have no connection whatsoever to either the author or affiliates…)

 A tale of kitchen table talent, here’s where you can read up on the story behind the book: http://www.crumbsmag.com/from-the-mag/686_form-follows-function

 And here’s where you can see what I have been testing and tasting this week:

 Orange & Cardamom Marmelade

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Lemon and Lavender Marmelade

(the recipe calls for lavender flowers and lavender essence – I had a couple of bottles of lavender syrup left over from the summer so worked those into the recipe instead…)

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Assessment: top marks awarded by both Hermann the German and Mini-Kraut – one of the most stringent juries out there..

 P.S. the book also contains a recipe for Lemon Curd…

Oranges and Lemons

A search for the word “citrus” in the edible landscapes along the winding path that led me to fruit-growing Franconia brings up:

… the citrus trees – oranges and lemons – in my grandmother’s generous veggie garden – shady and citrusy next to the red dust of the backyard … of which nothing now remains but a solitary concrete water tower and grandpa’s old workshop, still standing next to the sun-filled absence of my grandparents’ homestead, its unbaked Kimberly bricks now returned to the red earth from whence they had come some 100 years before. The rampant grass and greenery that is the southern African bush in January now flourishes where that house once stood, its roots nourished by the same rich, red soil that nourished mine, in that land from which you can never be expelled, memory’s myth land.

Riverton - The Backyard (2)                   Riverton 'The House' (2)

Just a few stretches of gravel and tarmac from that homestead, much of my childhood was spent in a suburb named Orange Grove, in a gravel street named after the Valencia Orange, in small-town deference to the citrus estate on the other side of the stream that was the boundary.

P1150459 (2)Valencia Crescent was the world as I knew it, complete with a culinary heritage rooted deep in the solidity of pot roasts, macaroni cheese, trifle, lemon meringue pie, rice pudding, apple crumble, scones and rock buns. There was Coronation Chicken and Aunty Nancy’s Meat Paste in amongst the frivolity of the 1960s and 1970s when cocktail snacks for cheese and wine parties took pride of place in the “Connoisseur Cooking” advertising supplements which arrived in the post every month: cheese straws and cheese dip, stuffed eggs next to melons sprouting cheese cubes and cocktail onions on cocktail sticks. It was a heritage which had also had a place for children’s birthday parties, where everything from the iced butterfly cakes and sausage rolls to the ballerina cake had been homemade by mum.

Part of my own personal heritage, citrus groves and plantations are part of the same agricultural heritage to which the orchards of Franconia belong.

For me, frosty February in Franconia is citrus time, when the citrus fruit ripened in the groves of southern Europe reaches this side of the Alps in abundance….

 And this year, like last year,

 Preserved Lemons

 are a must!

Preserved Lemons with Copyright

Such a treat for dressings and marinades come the summer and so easy to make.

Preserve them either as single lemons in jam-jar-sized jars, or several lemons in a large preserving jar, with the spice mix of your choice, e.g. cinnamon sticks, bay leaves, whole allspice and whole coriander… and of course sea salt (pure sea salt without any additives).

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Quantities: 1 lemon requires the juice of a further lemon and enough sea salt to fill its jar about a third full.

How to do it:

1) Sterilise your jars
2) Wash your lemons and sort them into lemons for the jar and lemons for the juice i.e. any with blemishes get juiced.
3) Slice the lemons for the jar into quarters and place in the sterilised jar(s).
4) Add your spices to the lemon in the jar(s).
5) Pour enough sea salt into each jar to fill it about one third full.
6) Juice one juice lemon per lemon-in-a-jar and pour over the lemon(s) in the jar(s).
7) Top up with enough cold water to cover the lemons, seal the jar(s) and turn them several times to ensure that the salt, lemon juice and water are well mixed. Store in a cool, dark place for about 3 months i.e. if you make them now they will be ready for the start of the summer, turning the jars gently every few days.

Over time, the salt will dissolve to form a wonderful lemony brine which is perfect for dressings, drizzling and marinating with both vegetables and meat (fish, chicken). The thinly sliced rind, too, is great used in the same way. The flesh comes away from the rind easily after 3 months in the brine and is discarded.