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Letter from Andalucia: Oranges and lemons

Letter from Andalucia: Oranges and lemons
The orange trees in Los Remedios laden with glistening bright naranjas are one of the most evocative scenes in Vejer, especially following a bleak British winter. The juice is truly at its peak this time of year, rich with both vitamin C and the taste of the sunny climes that yielded the fruit.
 
The countryside is so bounteous that everyone in town knows someone with orange and lemon trees in rural areas, and bagfuls of ripe fruit are frequent gifts to those less fortunate, such as myself. Yet nothing can compare to the thrill of harvesting my own Andalucian beauties with the utterly hedonistic citrus scent of freshly picked lemons pervading the atmosphere.
 
When the glut becomes too great, preserving lemons ensures a little taste of sunshine can last through the year. The method of salting the fruit originates from Morocco, and has been used in Moroccan and Middle Eastern cuisine for centuries. The tangy, bittersweet flavourbombs are addictive- well worth sacrificing at least a few of your fresh specimens.
 
At Annie B's Spanish Kitchen we've found myriad uses for preserved lemons- to enliven carrots & carrot puree; diced and run through bulgar wheat or couscous with fruits, nuts and herbs; stuffed into a chicken before roasting breast-side down; or folding through hot, boiled potatoes with parsley, tuna, onion, olive oil & sherry vinegar. The method for preservation is simple enough to try at home- you'll soon find them creeping into your everyday kitchen arsenal.
 
Recipe for Preserved Lemons
Ensure your lemons are unwaxed and preferably organic. Sterilize a jar big enough to hold the lemons you wish to preserve. Wash and scrub the lemons. Cut into quarters but NOT all the way to the bottom. The lemon should open out like a flower. Pack at least a tablespoon of rock- or sea-salt into each lemon by opening out each half, making sure that all exposed flesh is in contact/covered with salt. Pack lemons one by one into the jar. Add another couple of tablespoons of salt and a cinnamon stick and a few bay leaves according to personal taste, and cover with bottled water, leaving half an inch at the top of the jar to fill with olive oil. Turn the jar upside down every couple of days until all the salt has dissolved.
 
Leave for a month before use.
 
To prepare, rinse, pull away and discard flesh and use just the skin.
 
Contact Annie Bs Spanish Kitchen
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24 February 2011
By: Annie B
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