Lemon tree very tasty, lemon season very short
February 5, 2010 9:54 AM   Subscribe

'Tis the season for Meyer lemons and blood oranges. Yum! But seasons, alas, are fleeting. What's the best way to preserve something of the deliciousness all year long?

I love Meyer lemons and blood oranges, which are in season in CA right now. So I gather ye citrus while I may, and feast. But I'd like to preserve some of the goodness all year long. What is the best way to do this? Juicing and freezing the juice is obvious, but can I also freeze the zest? What about a marmalade type preserve, which would have to be a "freezer" marmalade as I do not have the equipment for canning?

I figure if I can't have the fresh fruit out of season, at least I can have some of the flavoring. Any suggestions (that don't demand canning or other special equipment) are welcome.
posted by Rosie M. Banks to Food & Drink (16 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
You want to make lemon curd. But you're crazy if you think it's going to last all year long. Once you taste it, I'd give it maybe a week. And that's if you make a lot.
posted by infinitywaltz at 9:57 AM on February 5, 2010

You should make preserved lemons: Wash Meyers very well; dry them; cut them into four quarters still attached at one end; pack them into a jar with kosher salt; turn the jar over every couple of days for a month or so. Use just the rinsed peel for a pickle-y, zingy, floral note anywhere you would use lemon zest.

real recipe
posted by peachfuzz at 9:58 AM on February 5, 2010 [3 favorites]

Sorbets and sherbets are an option, particularly if you've got access to an ice cream maker (although it's not essential).
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 10:11 AM on February 5, 2010

Lemon curd, preserved lemons. The latter works especially well in North African dishes, but also risottos and primavera-style pasta.
posted by holgate at 10:14 AM on February 5, 2010

Candy the peel!
posted by mollymayhem at 10:17 AM on February 5, 2010

You can make Meyer marmalade - google for it and you'll find a number of recipes with varying ratios of sugar, water and lemons. As for zest, you can just dry it and it retains much of its flavour. Also, you can zest it and put that in alcohol to make lemon flavour.
posted by GuyZero at 10:19 AM on February 5, 2010

Put the yellow part of the peels in vodka and add sugar to make limoncello. Use (or freeze) the juice for alcoholic drinks: mix it with honey, dark rum, and hot water to make a wonderful hot Meyer lemon grog, or make cold drinks such as a whiskey sour.
posted by Ery at 10:34 AM on February 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

What about a marmalade type preserve, which would have to be a "freezer" marmalade as I do not have the equipment for canning?

Lemons and oranges are filled with ascorbic acid — vitamin C — and food spoilage bacteria generally do not like acidic environments. With a little bit of sugar and pectin, you can easily make tasty marmalade that will keep outside of the freezer.

In other words, you don't need a heavy-duty pressure cooker for canning preserves, just a stock pot or large saucepan and all the same stuff you'd use for making freezer jam. Boil the filled jars for 15-20 minutes (longer for larger jars) and take them out to cool.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:56 AM on February 5, 2010

I just made this fantastic blood orange tart, which of course I ate right away. I'm recommending it here, however, because you're supposed to freeze it before baking. The recipe recommends at least 4 hours, preferably 24. I leave it to you to decide if you can wrap it really well and keep it frozen for awhile longer.
p.s. that's what I would do, but make sure you make more than one, 'cuz these are too awesome.
posted by purpletangerine at 12:02 PM on February 5, 2010

Hot lemon pickle.
posted by palliser at 12:02 PM on February 5, 2010

Ooh, ooh, I also used this recipe to make a kitchen degreaser out of the orange peels. Then you get the lovely smell of oranges in your kitchen no matter the season (and less chemicals, yay!)
posted by purpletangerine at 12:04 PM on February 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

Easy and delicious Meyer lemon marmalade
posted by kms at 1:18 PM on February 5, 2010

Preserved lemons (here's another recipe). Meyers are absolutely prefect for this. While the end product is not a fresh lemon, it is an absolutely delicious ingredient for many things. Chicken tagine with lemons and olives is a classic. Moroccan cooking makes great use of them. They make extra great martini garnishes. Baked goods are good uses for them too.

As my previous comment alludes, we've also had good success with preserved mandarin oranges. Again great drink garnishes.
posted by bonehead at 1:38 PM on February 5, 2010

Combine them. Orange Lemon Marmalade. Lemon / Shallot Mayo. Lemon / Orange tart. Orange cake with Lemon icing. Lemon / ginger iced tea. Roast chicken (or fish) stuffed with lemon. Lemon curd (really easy). Lemon / Orange syrup for drinks and pancakes. Lemon Orange candy. Lemon Orange soap. Lemon juice (for cleaning and cooking). Stick cloves into them and leave them about the house. Mix lemon rind with garlic to make gremollata. Put rinds into your garbage disposal to clean it. Freeze some juice into an ice cube tray and use for cooking, especially soups or put into a saute pan, saute until thick, and use to cover fish or chicken.

The preserved lemon idea is brilliant, and used in Mediterranean dishes of all kinds, especially tagines.
posted by xammerboy at 2:27 PM on February 5, 2010

I have frozen lemon zest; I used wax paper to make small packets and put the packets in a zip top bag.
posted by lemonwheel at 5:46 PM on February 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

I just made semi-dried/semi-candied blood oranges, which turned out wonderfully.

Preheat your oven to 350ish and cover a cookie sheet in parchment paper (can skip, but it makes life easier). Slice the oranges into ~1/4 inch disks, and just cover with water in an appropriate sized pot. Squeeze in a bit of lemon juice if you want (a tablespoon or two). Boil for ~10 min, until the orange rind is soft all the way through. Then add a lot of sugar and honey (I used ~1C sugar and ~1C honey for 3 oranges), until the water is quite sweet. (Yes, this is really ambiguous, if you want fruit that is more candied, use a larger proportion of sugar. It'll all work out). Boil for another 10-20 min, until the sugar's made it into the rind (tasting works here). At this point, pour off the now-delicious orange-honey juice into another container. The fruit part of your orange slices has probably mostly vanished into the syrup, this is fine. Lay out the drained slices on the cookie sheet, and put in oven until they're partly dry (~10 min). Flip them over and bake for another 5-10 min, until they're the texture you want. Remember, they'll probably be somewhat drier/stiffer once they've cooled. The amount of time you bake them will change the chewy/crunchiness. You now have sweet, but non-cloying dried orange slices! They go extremely well in hot tea, mulled wine, and most other places you'd expect.

You can also reduce the honey/orange juice to about half the original volume, the point where it's somewhat thickened, but not actually syrupy yet. This can be mixed 1:3 with sparkling water for a very good, fairly dry blood orange soda.

In both these recipes, the pith below the rind will add a certain amount of bitterness. I find this a good complement to the sweetness of the orange syrup, but if you don't like bitter things, you're probably better off using a more traditional candied orange recipe, which will probably only use the zest.
posted by lorimt at 6:17 PM on February 5, 2010 [3 favorites]

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