Friday, November 16, 2012

It started with a stroll through the farmers market

This morning, we went to market looking for nothing in particular.  We were actually there to stop across the street to pick up some herbal products for Hurricane Sandy relief from our friend Sarah, but decided to see what was available at market.
For the first time ever, I found locally grown organic Meyer lemons.  Just sitting there as if they were nothing special.  With no plan in mind, I grabbed 6 of them.  A few booths down the aisle, one of the shopkeepers stopped us to show us the beautiful local honey, which, as it turned out is so local that it even comes from our zip code.  Again, whoosh - into the market basket it went.

Immediately upon arriving home, out came a clean mason jar, and I began to slice up a few of the lemons.  Every so often one of the delicious thin slices found its way into my mouth - rind and all.  A lovely jar of sliced lemons smothered with honey will sit in the fridge, waiting to be added to teas to soothe any cold or sore throat that the winter brings.

Eventually, my mind wandered to the lacto-fermented lemons that we made last year after attending a class at the SouthEast Women's Herbal Conference.  A lacto-fermented food that most of us are familiar with is sauerkraut, a veritable staple in our part of the country, and the benefit of this type of food is that they introduce good critters to our intestinal tract, boosting the immune system, among many other things.  The preserved lemons are easy to make, but I couldn't find the very simple instructions we used on-line, so...
Slice a few organic lemons very thinly, removing seeds as you go.
Sprinkle a tsp. of sea salt in the bottom of a mason jar, and then begin layering the lemon slices, adding salt between the layers.  In a pint jar, you'll probably use about 1/4 cup of salt.  Smoosh the lemons so that the liquid mixes with the salt, creating a brine.  When finished, the jar should be full with enough juice to cover the lemon slices.  Cover loosely with cloth or a coffee filter, and allow to ferment for several days to a week.  After that, add a lid and let it continue to ferment in the refrigerator (where it will take place much more slowly).
After a couple of months, the lemons were much too salty for me, so the jar has remained in the fridge and I haven't even checked them since.  Until today.

It seemed like perhaps mixing them with some honey would cut the salt (like honey roasted nuts) and the idea to remove a small amount and so that's what I did.  But first, I tasted them without honey, and found that a miracle had occurred.  In the last 6 months, they mellowed to a scrumptious lemon-y, zingy thing of beauty!
And then I added the honey.

Why or WHY have I never done this before?  It is wonderful!  Using approximately 3 parts fermented lemon to 1 part honey, the resulting amazingness is not too sweet, barely salty, and I could eat it by the spoonful.  Although I worried that the honey would make the lemons too sweet to be used with savory dishes, that is not the case.  It is a very versatile flavor, and I can imagine using it on almost everything - salads, fish, chicken, vegetables, rice... you get the idea.
So my advice is to get those lemon slices fermenting pronto!  You want to do this.


Renee said...

Can you do the same thing with oranges? I have a TON of oranges this year and hardly any lemons. My trees did it backwards this year. LOL Usually my Meyer Lemon Tree goes crazy and the orange tree produces enough to store juice in the freezer to give me frozen juice for a year. :)

Tina Sams said...

I'm not sure. The acidity of lemon is part of the reason it works so well - BUT if you have a whole lot, why not try it and see?

Unknown said...

Adding organic lemons to my shopping list ... can't wait to try both of these :) .

cynthia said...

How long can the lemon and honey last I'm frig? I have a ton of lemons this would be nice to make and give as gifts...especially as winter comes...

Liana said...

Those look like great lemons. Even the organic ones in our super market don't look that good. :(

Tina Sams said...

Cynthia, I've had it for a year or more in the fridge. It keeps really well. Made a gallon today, and might give some away ;-)

Anonymous said...

Thank you Tina! I am so excited! I'm making these as gifts!