Seven weeks—oh, and 1 day.
That's how long ago I sliced lemons, sprinkled them generously with kosher salt and packed them into a Ball jar with bay leaves and peppercorns. It was the first time I tried preserving lemons.
I thought 3 to 4 weeks—the suggested canning time frame—would take forever. Nightly, after brushing my teeth, I methodically shook the jar to stir things up per Paula Wolfert's recommendation. It turned into a ritual; in fact, "Melissa shaking her lemons" became a joke among family and friends. But let's not go there.
Before I knew it, the lemons were more than ready. Tonight was the night to see if my patience had paid off.
I opened the jar, and it smelled like Mr. Clean. And although I've never tasted the toxic solution, the fermenting fruit has the sort of flavor I would imagine coming from a bottle stamped with the muscular bald man. Oddly enough, I continued to eat it; I was intrigued by the flavor.
For dinner, I turned to a Serious Eats recipe I found the week I read The New York Times piece about preserving lemons. I put my own twists on it, substituting the produce I picked up this weekend at farmer's markets. It was healthy, and it was a hit.
Farro, White Bean and Preserved Lemon Salad (adapted from Blake Royer via Serious Eats)
1 cup farro
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling
2 spring onion stalks, thinly sliced
2 green garlic stalks, thinly sliced
2 artichoke hearts, boiled in water with halved lemon for approximately 15 minutes (or until tender) then brushed with olive oil and grilled for 3 to 5 minutes per side, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
1 teaspoon fresh oregano, chopped
1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
2-3 tablespoon diced preserved lemon
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Prepare farro according to package directions (I mixed the grain with 3 cups of cold water, brought it to a boil, turned it down to a simmer and covered the pot. It cooked for approximately 40 minutes.) Drain and set aside.
2. In the meantime, heat olive oil over medium in a large skillet. Add spring onions and spring garlic; cook about 3 to 5 minutes, or until they start to become tender. Stir occasionally.
3. Stir in artichokes, herbs, beans, lemon and farro to heat through. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle with more olive oil, if desired.
When combined with all the other flavors, the preserved lemons are present but don't overpower. It offered a nice, bright flavor to complement the spring veggies and nutty whole grain.
The now-opened jar has been placed in the fridge. Guess I'll have to find another nightly ritual.