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Bottled sunshine

When life gives you lemons: squeal like a tipsy pelican. These orbs of wonder were a housewarming party contribution, bless our friends and their tree.

Glow!

In the interests of making this a more blog-sexy pic, I briefly considered putting these babies into a basket, or getting a kitten to hold them or something, but they’re so awesome on their own. I did crop out the algae-strewn fishtank and bottle of moisturiser that were in the background, so I think I get points for trying.

Winter has started and people are giving away lemons. It rocks: but what to do when you have so many? I’m an old hand at making lemon butter, but it never gets eaten that quickly around here, so, lacking the longevity of jam, it tends to get mouldy and thus thrown away. Which is a criminal waste of butter — butter that could be made into hollandaise or croissants. No no no no: no lemon butter today. But preserved lemons? Yeah, that’s something I could think about.

So I googled about and got a feel for how to make them: it’s a pretty straightforward process. You take some lemons, you take some salt, you take a jar, you take three weeks, and that’s pretty much it.  There’s lots of little details about scrubbing the lemons and making sure your jar doesn’t still have Promite in it, but that varies from recipe to recipe. Some recipes call for spices and extra additions to the lemon brine, but I thought I’d keep things simple. Here’s what I did. Boiled the jar and lid clean, scrubbed the lemons, and then sliced off the lemons’ bellybuttons (the nobbly bits where the stems were in the lemons’ youth). Then I sliced them into sixths, longways, but not quite cutting all the way through:

Thus!

And then cram ’em with salt! David Leibovitz says to use about a tablespoon of coarse salt per lemon, and I’ve got no reason to think he would lie about such matters. But I probably ended up using more than that:

Crunch!

Which looks pretty good to me. And then you cram them into a jar:

Jar says no.

Ah. Fuck. Didn’t think that one through. Splowell! I have read enough recipes for this stuff to know that the key ingredients are lemons, salt, etc. — not whole lemons, salt, etc. Chop ’em up, salt ’em good and squish ’em in! Reeeeeally squish! I mean reeeeeeallllllllyyy squish those bastards in!

Tangy little varmints!

I had scrubbed five lemons and by Satan’s nipple five lemons were going in that jar.

squuuuuuuuiiiiiiiisssssshhhhhh

Not pictured: BULGING BICEPS. YEAH! How’s THAT feel, lemons? They squirted out heaps of juice, which mingled playfully — nay, flirtily — with the salt, and even then I kept squishing.

Squished sunshine!

In! Then I topped up the lot with lemon juice and a little boiled-and-cooled water, gave the whole thing a shake (lid on) and topped it up again. The general vibe I’m getting from the Internet is that I will need to top it up with more lemon juice as the weeks go on, as the lemons collapse and settle and air bubbles rise and the moon shifts into its next quarter, etc. That’s cool: I’m up to the challenge. Set them aside for three or four weeks in the pantry, then another couple of weeks in the fridge, and voila! So we’ve got quite a while before we find out whether or not these are a successful experiment. So in the meantime, having bottled the beautiful tangy summer fruits in defiance of the winter weather…what the fuck do you do with preserved lemons, anyway?

Ooooh….this…or this…or this…oh my. Thank you, Internet.

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