Thursday 5 August 2010
Curing lemons seems a little odd at first, as fresh lemons are always in abundance until you realise that cured lemons lend themselves really well to certain dishes. Moroccan dishes come to mind instantly when thinking about salted lemons, they are often included in couscous having been chopped by hand and incorporated and perhaps with chopped peppers and courgettes. They really come into their own when used in lamb or mutton dishes; particularly those cooked in tagines as the slow cooking helps the flavours permeate the meat.
When I conduct my Curing & Smoking courses at www.empirefarm.co.uk in Somerset, I invariably start the day by asking the attendees to cure a lemon using sous vide and from a selection of British salts including a black salt. This often brings a look of surprise by the students, however as they go about doing this you can see it was the right icebreaker required to put the class at ease before moving onto the more serious side of the day.
I usually cure my lemons in a Kilner jar, I first of all slice my lemons in half and sometimes in quarters, then, I layer my jar starting with some of my favourite coarse sea salt from www.cornishseasalt.co.uk and then with a layer of lemons and by repeating the process until you finish with a layer of salt. Now leave up to 3 months before using, the lemons will discolour some but this is of no concern, as it will not detract from its unique flavouring. This has to be one of the easiest curing techniques you can learn and yet having learnt it you will be amazed at how it can change your thinking on how food should taste.
Living right by the sea here in Dawlish, Devon I am spoilt by being able to catch my own fish and this time of year mackerel are in plenty and easy to catch and all for Free! But if you are not up to fishing yourself, then pop into "Kates Great Catch" in Teignmouth where this Lady Fishmonger will provide you with the days fresh catch and lemons if you need them. With it being the summer I hot smoke my mackerel and when chilled I flake the flesh into a bowl, then I add some chopped cured lemon, season with cracked black pepper along with binding together with some plain mayonnaise or soft cream cheese. This light dish I often serve with baby gem lettuce and toasted brown bread. It doesn’t get much easier than that; you try it!
As with making vanilla sugar by placing your used vanilla pods in a jar of sugar, we have now achieved lemon salt by having cured the lemons in a jar of salt. So where can we use lemon salt in our repertoire? Well one area where we can use it is in the making of Bratwurst (top secret ingredient; which I’ll cover at a later date!) also we now have excellent lemon salt for curing salmon and as for other dishes or products, I’ll leave it for you to suggest in the comments area of this blog.