It is late September and we still have fruit flies! I thought these guys were supposed to go away as the temperature dropped! This year they appear to be sticking around, possibly it is all the yummy things I am trying to preserve. Happily, I have a tried and true solution that keeps them at bay. What is it, you ask? I put a small amount of cider vinegar in a bowl with a few pumps of dish soap. The sweetness of the cider vinegar draws them in and the soap coats their wings, so they don’t fly out. Voila! This sounds awfully vicious, I know, but I really hate fruit flies. One more tip, I tried both regular cider vinegar and an organic vinegar that I happened to have and for some reason, the bugs prefer the non-organic. There you have it, go forth and rid your kitchen of these pests!
Next, I was just given a book that I cannot wait to tell you about. America’s Test Kitchen just published a book this month called: d.i.y. cookbook can it, cure it, churn it, brew it. It is “100+ foolproof kitchen projects for the adventurous home cook.” It is so cool. I am a little bit giddy about it. It covers lots of the canning and preserving we have talked about before, but it also goes new and exciting places such as cheese making, charcuterie, and home brewing… how to make corn chips and marshmallows too! If you were to buy one book to test some fun new things out in your kitchen, this would be the book I recommend! The directions seem clear and the pictures are lovely and informative. I am excited to try making lots of things from this book.
One of the recipes is for Preserved Lemons. This is something I have been intrigued with for a little while now and I am happy to report it is very simple. Essentially by adding kosher salt to lemons and allowing them to cure for a few weeks, you end up with rinds that have become soft in texture and mellow in flavor, with a truly interesting brininess from the salt. You can then keep them on hand in your fridge for about 6 months. One can add them to salads or serve them with roasted vegetables to add a bright citrus flavor that seems like it would enhance just about anything! I am currently in the curing stage with mine, but I have great hopes that this will become a staple in our house. It seems like we always have a few lemons around, don’t you?
The recipe that I used for this was actually from another cookbook, Canning for a New Generation, by Liana Krissoff. I just used the two lemons that I had in my fridge already and a smaller pint size jar, as I think that is a more usable amount, but do whatever feels good to you.
This is a classic North African staple; the funky salted lemons are featured in tagines, salads, rice dishes, and so on. To use the lemons, scrape off and discard the lemon flesh, leaving just the preserved peel.5 lemons, (about 1-1/4 pounds), washed 1/3 cup pure kosher salt 1/3 to 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice, as necessary
Pat the lemons dry and cut them lengthwise into eighths. Layer the wedges with salt in a clean 1-quart jar, pressing them down with a wooden spoon handle to fit the jar. Cover and set aside in a cool spot for 3-4 days. The juice will be drawn out and should cover or almost cover the lemons. Push the lemon wedges down so they are all submerged in the brine; if necessary, add more lemon juice to cover. Put the lid back on the jar and set in a cool spot for about 3 weeks, until the peel is soft.
The preserved lemons will keep, covered, in a cool spot, for at least 6 months; use a clean, dry utensil to remove wedges and make sure all the peel remains covered in brine. Discard any parts that exhibit mold.
Makes 1 quart