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Ingredient of the season

Ingredient of the season

Ode to citrus

February 17, 2019

In the kitchen world there are few ingredients that shout out spring, summer, sun, light and the beginning of a wonderful year in the kitchen. These ingredients have the most vivid colors and ooze of c-vitamins after the dark days of winter have been witnessed.

The citrus or citruses bring a big smile on my face and I don´t seem to get enough of them. Especially the lemon zest does wonders to so many dishes that I seem to buy lemons for the zest nowadays. The scent is intoxicating.

All citrus species descend from three primary ancestors: citrons, pomelos and mandarins.

History tells that citrus originated from South East Asia seven million years ago. All citrus species descend from three primary ancestors: citrons, pomelos and mandarins. Imagine what Florida or California would look like without citrus cultivation today.

Most citrus is very suitable for mutation and therefore very attractive for new types of breeding. We will be seeing a lot more new citruses in our shopping basket! Sweeties, blood semi-dwarf oranges, versions with thin rinds like the sweet Meyer lemon (a cross between a regular lemon and a mandarin orange), imagination is the limit.

An attractive and healthy salad in minutes

I will share two simple citrus recipes here. The first is a quick citrus salad. You can use all different types of citrus for the salad and a sharp knife helps. The trick is to peel only the fruit flesh to the mix. So no white rinds, only the purest and simplest taste of the citrus. For this type of peeling, cut first circles away from both ends of the fruit and then cut slices of the rind around the fruit. Then cut the flesh from the contours. I like to mix sweet and sour citrus like mandarines, oranges and grapefruit. The taste of the salad intensifies when you keep it in the fridge for a couple of hours. Fresh mint leaves go very well here and you have a very attractive and healthy salad in minutes.

Preserved lemon pieces bring a zing to any dish, salad or plate.

I have been preserving lemons for a year now and a couple of weeks ago I prepared some blood oranges to be preserved. So I do not know yet how the blood oranges succeed in lemon juice. But I know that the preserved lemon pieces bring a zing to any dish, salad or plate.

I am totally addicted to these preserved wonders. I use only organic lemon as they do not have added wax. You´ll need lemons, sea salt and a clean sealed glass jar. Open the glass jar and add one tablespoon of salt in the bottom. Then cut the lemons in an X shape 3/4 lengthwise. Rub one tablespoon of salt to the cut lemon wedges. When there is no more room for lemons in the glass jar, add pressed lemon juice to the jar till it is full. Air is the enemy in the jar. Close the jar and give a couple of whirls. Keep the jar in room temperature avoiding sunlight and open daily to mix the contents and press the lemons into the . After a couple of weeks, put the jar in the fridge. Wait, the more the better, patience is a virtue here.

When the rind is soft you can start using by cutting tiny pieces of lemon. I add these tiny marvels to salads, risottos, meat and fish. Actually I have not found a plate that would not love preserved lemons!

Illustration by Teresa Moorhouse @teresa.moorhouse