For the most part, I eat seasonally – but I like to preserve some things that I find necessary to cook with all year long – tomatoes, peppers, and salsa verde are necessary winter staples in my pantry. Last year, I acquired a chest freezer, which has opened up a lot of space for me to preserve a wider variety of foods.
It is citrus season now, and I’ve been buying up tangerines from Orange Blossom Farm, and G&S oranges and grapefruits to juice and freeze. I had a fairly decent Meyer Lemon harvest of my own, and my friend Kristina harvested over 500 lemons from her tree, from which I bartered for a couple dozen.
The Mexican Lime tree in a pot next to the Meyer Lemon tree, produced identical looking and tasting fruit, so it appears that they have cross-pollinated and all become Meyer Lemons.
Last year I made preserved lemons, most of which I still have. So this year, I decided to juice and freeze these lemons, and also their zest. I can’t believe I hadn’t thought of that before – how simple to grab a pinch of frozen zest from a bag in the freezer.
I also froze some juice in ice trays, for times when I just need a small amount of citrus to brighten the flavor of a dish, or as an addition to a cocktail.
Next on my Meyer Lemon preserving project, I decided to start a small batch of Limoncello. It seemed like a good way to use some of the peel. So, basically, you put lemon peel into a jar of Tito’s Vodka for several days, before adding the sugar. Or you could skip the sugar altogether, and jut have lemon Vodka.
Finally, I made my favorite mustard recipe, from Ball, The Complete Book of Home Preserving, Lemon-Sage Wine Mustard. For this recipe, I add extra lemon juice and zest and just use half of the honey. I also added a tablespoon of hot Oriental mustard for some heat, (to a double batch) then processed it in the Vitamix for a smoother mustard.
I feel pretty good about my citrus stash, although I’ve yet to freeze grapefruit juice. Citrus makes everything taste brighter and more complex, is good to drink on its own or in a cocktail, and makes a fabulous, tenderizing marinade for meats.
Naturally, there are lots of ways to preserve lemons, and other citrus, but this is what works for me. Just about everything you would like to make from citrus, can be made from the juice.