I've got a glut of lemons, so - at long last - I'm going to preserve a jar or two. And now I need a little advice from those of you who have done this. It comes from too much reading and not enough doing: does it really matter if you top up the jar with water as well as lemon juice? Or should it be only lemon juice? Paula Wolfert is stern: no water, just the juice of lemons you have squeezed yourself. But Pam Corbin, the author of the River Cottage handbook on Preserves, says you can top up with a little water.
I'll give both the methods (principally so that I can find them easily when we get back from a lunch party) ... but I'd really like some advice from anyone who's done this.
Paula Wolfert's preserved lemons
70g (or more) salt
freshly squeezed lemon juice if necessary
+ optional Safi mixture:
1 cinnamon stick
5-6 coriander seeds
3-4 black peppercorns
1 bay leaf
Quarter the lemons from the top to within a centimetre of the bottom; sprinkle salt on the exposed surfaces; reshape fruit.
Put one tablespoon of salt in the bottom of a Le Parfait jar. Pack in the lemons, squashing them down, adding more salt, and the spices if you're using them. Press the lemons to release juice, and add more if necessary until the fruit is covered. Seal.
Keep in a warm place for 30 days, shaking daily.
Pam Corbin's preserved lemons
for two 450g jars
1kg small lemons
150g sea salt
1 tsp pink or black peppercorns
3-4 bay leaves
1 tsp coriander seeds (optional)
Set aside 3-4 lemons for juice.
Partially quarter the others by slicing lengthwise but keeping them intact at the bottom. Rub a teaspoon of salt into the cut surfaces of each lemon. Pack into the jars, sprinkling with salt and spices. Cover the lemons with juice. Top up the jars with a little water if necessary. Seal. Leave for four weeks.
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