Food in Jars Mastery Challenge
“And it never failed that during the dry years the people forgot about the rich years, and during the wet years they lost all memory of the dry years. It was always that way. And that was the long Salinas Valley. “
East of Eden, John Steinbeck
After all the dark and stormy weather plus two power outages in one week this is just the project I needed. Easy and rewarding, the bright color and intensity of pure citrus chased all my gray thoughts away. Salt preserving is the second Food in Jars Mastery Challenge. Making citrus salt was nothing like making marmalade, the first Mastery Challenge. There wasn’t anything sweet to temper the boldness. It was intense in its presentation. I zested the fruit into separate piles, Lisbon lemon, Persian lime and Meyer lemon. Rubbing the zest into the salt was a sensory pleasure. As even more citrus oil perfumed my fingertips my mind wandered. I wanted to be more like my lemons and limes, bold and bright in winter, but not crisp and brittle. To bring joy and only overwhelm with goodness. To know that adding a little sweetness doesn’t diminish a personality, it just softens the intensity.
I am looking forward to using my citrus salt on roasted vegetables, sheet pan dinners with chicken thighs, simmering grain pilafs and even sweets. Think of lemon cake, sweet rolls and shortbread cookies. Oh, the rim of a margarita glass! Salt and citrus go with just about everything. I made six batches, two each of: Lisbon lemon, Meyer Lemon and Persian lime. A total of three cups of salt and three cups of citrus zest. No fruit was wasted with my project, after zesting, I juiced all the citrus and made lemon-lime aid. I was inspired to make a trio of citrus salt by this gorgeous post.
- Heat the oven to warm. I used the lowest temperature on my oven, 170°, just enough warmth to dry out the citrus. Cover a sheet pan with parchment.
- Wash and thoroughly dry the citrus. Finely zest the fruit. In a large bowl add the salt and zest. Use your hands to massage the zest into the salt. Work them together until no clumps of zest remain. Spread the salt and citrus mixture across the surface of the sheet pan. I made three batches, with three types of citrus. Placing them in three separate rows, on one sheet pan.
- Bake for 30 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven. Leave the oven on while testing to see if the moisture has evaporated from the citrus by breaking up any clumps of salt. When ready the zest and salt will all be dry. As the moisture leaves the zest, the intense color will soften. My three batches (on one sheet pan) took an additional 30 minutes of oven time. Time will depend on oven temperature, moistness of the zest and depth of the salt layer on the sheet pan.
- Let the citrus salt cool before storing. The citrus salt can be used as is, or broken up in a mortar and pestle, or whirred together in a food processor or high speed blender. I pulsed mine in my food processor before storing.
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