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How to Submit Your Salt Preserve for the February #fijchallenge

We’re wrapping up the second week of making for the February Food in Jars Mastery Challenge. So many people have already shared their finished projects with me on Facebook and Instagram and it’s been so fun to see all of your salt preserving projects.

At the bottom of this page, you’ll find the form I’m using to collect this month’s projects (and if you don’t see it at the bottom of the page, you can also find it here). This month, there are four required fields. I’m asking you tell me is your name, the name of your project, the city where you live (just so we can see the kind of geographic distribution), mark a check-box telling me what category your preserve (or preserves, if you made more than one) fell into.

Those are the only details I need to count you among the participants, but like last month, more fields do exist on the form. There’s a space to share a link to your project. That link can go to a blog post, a specific picture on Instagram, a Tweet, a post on Tumblr, or to a picture on Flickr or Google Photos. Just remember that you need to set your privacy settings so that wherever your post is, it is publicly available.

With more than 1,600 people signed up for this challenge, I cannot do a comprehensive round-up. However, just like last month, I will do my very best to link out to as many people as I can, though.

Please remember that the deadline to submit your salt preserve in order to be counted in the monthly total is Monday, February 27 (because let’s face it, I’m not going to be working on the round-up until the 28th anyway).

Oh, and if you’ve been sitting on the fence about participating, I’ve expanded the March topic a little. We’re going to be making both jellies and shrubs. Join us!

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Meyer Lemon, Garlic, & Cilantro Salt

This hand chopped Meyer lemon, garlic, & cilantro salt is quick to make, easy to use, and offers a simple way to keep from throwing out expensive herbs. You could just as easily use a bundle of parsley, a few sprigs of rosemary, or leaves from a package of fresh sage. And it’s an ideal project for the February’s Mastery Challenge topic – salt preserving. 

Ingredients for Meyer lemon, garlic, & cilantro salt

Last week, I bought a bag of cilantro. I needed just a few sprigs for a batch of soup I was making and didn’t have a good plan for the rest (so often the death knell for fresh herbs). Yesterday, with this month’s salt preserving challenge top in my mind, I went looking for that bag. It was a little wilted and a few leaves had gone slimy, but plenty was still useful and salvageable. And so I made a little batch of flavored salt.

half chopped ingredients for Meyer lemon, garlic, & cilantro salt

I cleaned the useable cilantro, gathered up a few cloves of garlic, grabbed a precious two Meyer lemons (from the batch that I got from Lemon Ladies last month), and pulled down a jar of salt. A big cutting board and a sharp knife and I was ready to go. I started by peeling and chopping the garlic, because it was the most dense of the ingredients I was working with. Once it was chopped down into manageable bits, started chopping in the cilantro (stems and all).

Once those two were well integrated, I grated the fragrant zest off the two lemons and added that to the pile. Finally, three tablespoons of sea salt. Chop, chop, chop – gather – and chop some more.

Finished Meyer lemon, garlic, & cilantro salt

Once I liked the consistency of the ingredients (not too fine, but relatively uniform and well-integrated), I spread it out on a plate and set it in the corner of my dining room to dry for a few days. Right now, it’s still damp, but after 48 hours, it should be quite crunchy and crumbly (and if it’s not, I’ll either let it sit for another day, or I’ll finish it off in the oven).

In small batches, hand chopped flavored salts like this are incredibly quick to make and a pleasure to use. You don’t need to dirty the food processor, or even be particularly precise with your measurements. It’s about extending the useful life of ingredients and making something that will bring easy flavor to basic cooking.

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How to Use Salt Preserved Citrus

Looking for ways to use the preserved lemons, limes, or oranges you made this month? Here are more than 40 ways to use salt preserved citrus to delicious effect.

Lots of you have taken a leap of faith with me this month and have made a jar of preserved lemons, limes, oranges, or grapefruit for the Food in Jars Mastery Challenge without really knowing what to do when them when they’re ready. In order that I’ve not led you astray, here’s a list of things that you can make with your salt preserved citrus when it’s ready.

I will say that most of these recipes do call for preserved lemons, but take heart, most will work beautifully with any preserved citrus. I’ve made note down below when I think substitutions would be particularly tasty.

From New York Times Cooking

From Epicurious

From Food52

Finally, some thoughts on using preserved citrus without a recipe. So many dishes, from simple vinaigrettes to grain salads, soups, and casseroles, can typically benefit from the addition of salt and acid. Thing of preserved citrus as a single condiment that can deliver both.

Chop the rind into tiny bits and stir it into your chicken, lentil, or bean soup. Pour a bit of the liquid off into a stew that needs brightening. Whir some of your jar into a thick puree and spoon it into hummus. Once you get to know the flavor, you’ll find that preserved citrus is endlessly useful.

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Salt Preserved Grapefruit with Black Pepper and Cloves

We’re talking about salt preserving this month as part of the Food in Jars Mastery Challenge. Several times now, I’ve read comments from people asking if it’s really as easy as it seems. After all, shouldn’t food preservation be labor intensive and time consuming? Happily, the answer is no. Not all acts of food preservation need to be hard. For instances, this batch of preserved grapefruit with spices. It took all of hands-on five minutes to make, and that includes the time I spent to take the pictures you see here.

First, I gathered my ingredients. One hefty pink grapefruit. Some sea salt. And the spices that happened to catch my fancy this morning.

From there, I cut the grapefruit into manageable pieces. In this case, that meant eighths that were then each halved again.

Then it was time to layer the grapefruit wedges. I took two pieces and snugged them into the bottom of the jar. I topped that with a teaspoon of salt, a few cloves and a couple black peppercorns.

I kept layering grapefruit pieces, salt, and spices until all the jar was full and all the grapefruit was used up (and if you don’t recognize it, I’m using a pint & half jar here. It’s the one that holds three cups).

Once the jar was full, I pressed gently on the top to ensure that the salt was going to start dissolving and give me plenty of juice. I’ll let this sit on the countertop for the next week or so, until the grapefruit pieces are entirely covered with juice and they’ve started to soften and develop a pleasingly funky flavor. At that point, the jar will go into the fridge and I’ll start using these preserved grapefruit pieces to add flavor to dips, vinaigrettes, soups, and stews.

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Salt Preserving for the February Mastery Challenge

It’s the first of February and that means it’s time to take on the second project in the Food in Jars Mastery Challenge. This month is all about salt preserving. For the purposes of this challenge, we’re going to focus on dry brining or curing. Think salt preserved citrus, salt preserved herbs (herbes salees), gravlax, cured egg yolks, sauerkraut, infused salts, and kimchi. We’re going to stay away from meat and wet-brined ferments.

Remember that the goal of this challenge is to help you expand your skills while creating something that you’ll actually use. So choose a project or recipe that will satisfy both your own learning and help you make something delicious.

The Recipes

You don’t have to choose one of these recipes, but there’s some good stuff here. Feel free to use one or use them as a jumping off point for your own research and exploration.

Salt preserved lemons – This is an easy starting point. I make at least one batch of these every year. They add a tangy, funky bite to soups and stews. I often heap a bunch of them in the blender and puree them smooth. I dollop that puree into hummus, vinaigrettes, and other creamy spreads.

Salt preserved key limes – Some readers argued whether the fruit I used were in this project were actually key limes, but that’s what the bag said. They’re zippy and bright and worth the making.

Citrus salt – Another really simple one. Zest a bunch of lemons, limes, grapefruits, or oranges and combine them with chunky salt. Spread it out on plate or parchment-lined cookie sheet and let it air dry. Then sprinkle it over chicken, fish, dips, and roasted vegetables.

Herb salt – A variation on the citrus salt above, this expansive, wide-ranging recipe is flexible and adaptable.

Herbes salees – There’s a version of this recipe in my second book, but I learned everything I know about salt preserved herbs from Joel and Dana at Well Preserved. And so if their post was a good starting place for me, it’s a good starting place for you!

Gravlax – Quick cured and seasoned salmon that takes a few minutes to prep and just a couple days in the fridge to get good. It’s a low effort, high reward project and just the thing to make if you’re planning a dinner party or fancy brunch.

Cured egg yolks – I’ve not made these before, so I point you in the direction of Hank Shaw for instructions here. From what I hear, this relatively quick cure produces something with the flavor and depth of good cheese.

Kraut – There’s so many directions to go here. Start with a recipe that appeals and begin to explore.

Kimchi – This is my favorite approach, but it just one of many. If you decide to go in this direction, do try to stay away from the brined recipes and stick to the ones that are salted directly, as we’ll focus on wet brined foods later in the year.

Soup base – I almost always have a jar of this vegetable-heavy paste in my fridge for giving depth to soups and stews.

As always, I’ll spend the next month posting recipes and troubleshooting guides focused on this month’s topic. Alex will also have a post that will feature her project. More soon!

What to do if you can’t have salt!

I’ve had a couple people reach out with health conditions that require they avoid salt to ask about how they might participate in this month’s challenge without actually using salt. If you find yourself in this camp, I suggest you take a look at the herb salt link above. You could make a dried herb and citrus zest blend. Or perhaps a salt-free version of homemade furikake (a Japanese seasoning blend that traditionally includes toasted sesame seeds, crumbled nori and bonito flakes).

Look for projects that are in the spirit of the challenge and expand your skills. That’s what I’m looking for!

 

 

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Mastery Challenge January Round-up: Marmalade

Well friends, I think we can safely say that the first month of the Food in Jars Mastery Challenge was a resounding success. Currently, there are just over 1,500 of you signed up via our email list and nearly 600 of you submitted a project for the final tally and round-up.

You turned blueberries, bergamot, cherries, clementines, cranberries, figs, ginger, grapefruit, key limes, kiwis, kumquats, lemons, limes (Persian, Bearss, and Makrut varieties all abound), mangoes, Meyer lemon (the most popular single fruit variety in the challenge), onions, oranges (including blood, Cara Cara, honeybell, mandarin, Minneola, navel, satsuma, and Seville), pears, pineapple, pomelo, rhubarb, strawberries, tomatoes, tangelo, yuzu, and zucchini.

There were also a few unexpected ingredients, including champagne, rice wine vinegar, and a grudging willingness to participate (I saw that, Janet).

For 61% of you, this was the first time you ever attempted to make marmalade. The remaining 39% of you who had done it before. And while I’m not a statistician, I do believe that the charts above tell us that most of you are feel more warmly towards marmalade than you did at the beginning of January.

Now, on to the marmalades. Because of the high number of participants, I’m not able to include everyone in the round-up. But I am going to do my best to ensure that a goodly number of you are represented here.

Blood Orange Marmalades

Slivers of blood oranges on their way to becoming marmalade – Kitchen Commentary

Cara Cara Oranges

Cooking down the lemons – My Bit of Earth

Oranges

Grapefruit

Lemon (Meyer and Other)

Lemon and mango marmalade – Sidewalk Shoes

Other Assorted Sweet Marmalades

Savory Marmalades

A huge thank you to all of you who participated in this challenge! So sorry that I wasn’t able to include everyone in the round-up, but if I didn’t get to you this month, I’ll do my best to include you next time!

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