Saturday, March 12, 2022

It's lemon season!

It's that time, again: Meyer lemon season (indoors, and on the West Coast) coinciding with juniper pollen season. The juniper is foraged, and it is Juniperus virginiana, known commonly - and confusingly - as eastern red cedar. A cedar it ain't.

The pictured ferment is an outtake from my recent citrus piece for Gardenista (So You Grew a Lemon: Now What?). I have so many ways to use these precious indoor-grown lemons (or limes or makruts) that I ran out of space. And ferments take space to explain. So simple to make, so lengthy to write a How To. The trick is just to start. And then unfamiliarity gives way to wonder.

For this ferment I picked a handful of pollen-laden juniper (the needles and pollen are very aromatic), scrubbed 5 Meyer lemons and sliced them, popped those into a large, 6-cup Mason jar, added 2 cups of sugar and topped with water. Shook it all up to dissolve the sugar, then loosened the lid. After that it's a daily stir, to introduce even more air. After a few days it begins to fizz. That's the fermentation. I leave it another day or two and then strain, bottle, and keep in the fridge. It is divine in drinks - alcoholic or non - and requires dilution. I use maybe an ounce (about 2 tablespoons) at a time. 

It also works very well as an addition to a pan sauce (this is a very pan-saucy house). If I've seared-then-braised whole duck legs, for instance, a quarter cup poured into the pan halfway through makes them syrupy and delicious, with the slight bitterness and resin of the zest and juniper keeping things from being cloying.

But read the story. Lots more ideas, there. (If I had to pick just one, it would be the yuja-cha.)


Spring Walks and Picnics

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