Thursday, January 27, 2005
When Life Gives You Lemons ...
I harvested about three dozen lemons from my friend Elaine's tree when I was minding her cats over New Year's. Due to the cold conditions in my kitchen, a number of them have survived, and been supplemented by lemons from my own tree.
I first made Lemon Chutney from Laurie Colwin's recipe in More Home Cooking about six months ago. It tasted great, although it was very, very solid. I asked Marsha over at Hot Water Bath for some advice and she said it should be more liquid. So I resolved to try again.
I don't know what I used last time to zest the lemons, but this time I used my serrated-edge peeler, made by Messermeister, that I got at Sur La Table and it was The Right Tool For The Job. With minimal effort, I got large strips of zest with minimal pith off the lemon quickly. I had also just had my chef's knife sharpened at the Berkeley Farmer's Market, and it chopped and peeled like a breeze.
I varied the spicing by using allspice (ground in my second Krups grinder, which is designated for spices) instead of cardamom, and some powdered and crystallized ginger instead of the fresh. But here is the recipe as Colwin gave it, with the proviso that experimentation often works and you should document it.
It was very liquid this time. I got five jars instead of four. [Edited to add: A preserving book I have recommends putting the lemon seeds in a cheesecloth bag, as they are high pectin and then can be easily removed from the finished product. Definitely something for next time, as I seperated out all the seeds.]
Rmeove the zest from 8 lemons with a vegetable peeler, being careful to not include the pith (white part). Cut away the pith and discard. Chop the zest and the flesh fine with a good sharp knife. Transfer into a glass or earthenware bowl, mix with 2 tablespoons salt, and let sit overnight.
Transfer the lemon to your preserving pan. Add:
4 big garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup currants or 1 cup raisins
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1 TBS grated fresh ginger
1 tea ground cardamom
1 tea ground coriander
1/2 tea cayenne
1/2 tea dried red pepper flakes
1 lb package brown sugar
Stir and cook gently over medium heat till it becomes thick (up to 45 minutes).
While this is happening, boil 4-5 8 oz jars and lids in a large pot of water. Take the jars out with tongs when the chutney is ready and fill (wide mouth funnels are great). Put the lids on and put the jars back in the boiling water (Colwin says the water should cover by 2", however, any cover should work) and boil them up for 10 minutes.
Now the hard part - this should not be eaten right away. Let it ripen for at least a month.