Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Meyer Lemons

A few months ago I continually ran into Meyer lemon recipes. I have heard of them but have never tried them. So, I searched and searched and searched. Nothing. I went on line and found that these little jewels, that are a cross between a lemon and a mandarin orange, are plentiful in California. I live on the east coast. So, the next best thing was to buy a Meyer lemon tree!

And, that is what I did. After some searching I purchased an one year old dwarf Meyer lemon tree from a California grower. I was thrilled. I quickly potted my tree and dreamt of preserved lemons, lemonade and Moroccan chicken w/ olives and lemons. My dreams will have to carry me a couple of years, because my tree will not produce any fruit for two or more years. So, non-Meyer lemons will be my fill-in until then. To be continued . . .

Preserved Lemons
8 Meyer (or regular) lemons, scrubbed very clean
½ cup kosher salt
extra lemon juice, if needed
sterilized jar

Place 2 tablespoons of salt in the bottom of a sterilized jar. Cut off any protruding stems from the lemons and cut ¼ inch off the tip of each lemon. Cut the lemons as if you were going to cut them in half, but do not cut all the way. Keep the lemons attached at the base. Make another cut in a similar manner, now the lemons are quartered, but attached. Pry the lemons open and generously sprinkle salt all over the the insides and the outsides. Pack the lemons in the jar. Squishing them down to extract the juice. Fill the jar with the lemons. Add more juice if necessary to cover the lemons. Seal the jar and let sit at room temperature for a couple of days. Turn the jar occasionally. Put in refrigerator for at least 3 weeks or until the lemon rinds are soften. Turn upside down from time to time. To use, rinse the lemons to remove salt. Discard seeds and pulp. Store in the refrigerator for up to 6 months.

August 15 is Lemon Meringue Pie Day
August 20 is Lemonade Day
August 29 is Lemon Juice Day

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Peaches Everywhere

I ventured out and battled the heat last weekend and went to the local farmer's market. I was looking for some unusual fruit and vegetables for a class I am teaching this week. I did not come across anything unusual but there was no short supply of peaches. They were everywhere. Every corner I turned was another stand with peaches. Now, I am not complaining. In fact, I love peaches but they have a very short shelf (or table) life. People often complain when they are hard as rocks at the store. It is better that way. Because in two days they will be perfect and in 4 days they will be soft and mushy.

So, when you buy too many peaches, do the next best thing. Can them. I made this peach chutney with some ripe but firm peaches. It was delicious. If I have the strength and discipline to save a jar or two I will have a real treat to complement my holiday ham this year.

August is Peach Month
August 22 is Eat a Peach Day
August 24 is National Peach Pie Day

Peach Chutney

1 tablespoon oil
1 cup chopped onions (about 2 medium)
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
4 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup sugar
½ cup red wine vinegar
¼ cup lemon juice
½ teaspoon dry mustard
½ teaspoon ground allspice
3 cups chopped, peeled peaches (about 4 medium)
¾ cup dried cherries or cranberries

In a medium saucepan heat oil. Add onions, ginger, and garlic. Cook for 5 minutes. Add sugar, vinegar, lemon juice, mustard and allspice. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer. Let simmer uncovered for 5 minutes. Stir in peaches and cherries. Simmer uncovered for about 10 minutes. Ladle hot chutney into sterilized canning jars. Seal and process filled jars for 10 minutes (start timing when water starts in boil) in a boiling-water canner. Remove jars and cool on a wire rack.