Should I Eat This Eventually? Citrus Confit
January 22, 2019 5:01 PM   Subscribe

Just for fun, I'm trying to make some citrus confit. Difficulty: I have never made or tasted this before. I have a jar of salt, sugar, olive oil, citrus, salt, sugar, olive oil, citrus, salt, sugar, olive oil in a jar in the fridge right now. Except half my citrus ended up above the olive oil, which has solidified, and the other half are suspended in it. Opening the jar, it smells like pickles. So, AskMe, am I making confit or am I making poison?
posted by headspace to Food & Drink (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I guess it depends on what you are referring to as a citrus "confit," which normally refers to meat stored in its own rendered fat. I don't know about poison, but I wouldn't eat anything pickled or otherwise brined that went above the brining medium. You're supposed to weigh it down with followers. On the other hand, some of the recipes I see for citrus confit are just candying processes, in which case it being in the fridge should probably be all right, but then I don't know why it should smell of vinegar.
posted by praemunire at 5:07 PM on January 22

I'm all for "eating this", but it smells at all off, as you indicate, I would toss it.
posted by easy, lucky, free at 5:15 PM on January 22 [1 favorite]

Are you using a recipe? I’ve never seen a fruit confit with oil.
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 5:59 PM on January 22 [1 favorite]

According to the CDC:

Everyone can reduce their chances of getting botulism by:

Refrigerating homemade oils infused with garlic or herbs and throwing away any unused oils after 4 days.

Did you use dried citrus peel or fresh? How about the other ingredients?

Has it been in the fridge the *entire* time?

How many days have passed since you made it?

Is the olive oil cloudy?

I'm asking these questions but my real answer is that I don't fuck with botulism. If it already smells like pickles, when your intention was not to make pickles, better safe than sorry. I'd toss it. But that's just me.
posted by nightrecordings at 6:17 PM on January 22 [4 favorites]

Also, on the off chance I'm being way too conservative about this: I am assuming you boiled this on the stovetop before you poured it in the jar?

Still, the pickle smell.
posted by nightrecordings at 6:25 PM on January 22 [1 favorite]

I wouldn’t eat it. Keeping things covered in oil is key. Citrus is pretty inexpensive. Just start over, maybe?
posted by OneSmartMonkey at 7:08 PM on January 22 [1 favorite]

That is pretty unanimous! I am throwing this away, and starting again. I went back to get the recipe I was using, and I conflated Eric Ripert's salt and sugar ONLY lemon confit, with Saveur's savory olive oil lemon confit, which, uh, plainly doesn't work. So I don't recommend that!

Thanks, AskMe!
posted by headspace at 8:04 PM on January 22 [3 favorites]

You already made your decision, but some more info if you decide to make this again:

The Eric Ripert recipe is "confit" in the broad, French sense of "confit"="preserved", which doesn't necessarily imply the use of oil in all cases. It's a fairly standard North Africa/Southeast Asian-style preserved lemon technique, where salt (and sugar, in this case) mix with lemon juice to make an acidic salty brine, which permeates the lemon pith. In France you would also find fruit confit-ed with only sugar.

Since preserved lemons are, in effect, lemon pickles, they will develop a pickle-y smell, so that of itself isn't necessarily cause for concern.

Clostridium botulinum is odorless and tasteless, and requires a fully anaerobic (no-oxygen) environment to grow, which is why it can be an issue in garlic/herb oil; but will not grow in an acidic environment (pH below 4.6). A layer of oil on top of pickles can help prevent mold growth.

Oil in pickled lemons sounds like a more South Asian-Style achar/achaar- some of these have you cook the lemons in the oil first , other styles salt the lemons first and then pour oil over. But layered, uncooked, with oil, I've not really seen before. To be honest I'd probably eat what you'd made, but if you want to try again, you might end up with something tastier if you go for a more preserved lemon approach, or a spiced, cooked, lemon achaar approach. Good luck, and hope you do try again because pickled lemons of any variety are heavenly.
posted by zingiberene at 7:46 AM on January 23 [7 favorites]

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