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Making Preserved Lemons

November 18th, 2009

I’m a huge fan of all things lemon. If I have a choice I’ll take lemon anything: cookies, cakes, scones, etc. Sadly lemons don’t grow in NE Ohio (unless you can manage an indoor tree) so finding a local source is not going to happen. The next best thing to local, is finding a small orchard to buy them from. I searched on-line and found a small orchard in California called Lemon Ladies Orchard. I ordered a 10-lb box of Meyer lemons and they arrived several days later.
I have so many recipes for these lemons I probably will run out of lemons long before I complete them all. First on my list was making a batch of preserved lemons for the pantry.
I picked out 15 nice lemons, coarse sea salt and grabbed a nice sized jar from the pantry. While I sterilized the jar, I washed and quartered 10 of the lemons (cut the stem end off and quarter lemons lengthwise). Next I added the lemon quarters to my jar adding a scant tablespoon of salt after each row. Pack the lemons tightly but don’t crush them. You can also add spices if you’d like, cinnamon, cloves, etc.
Keep adding lemons and salt until you’re up to the top of the jar (I used a quart jar, you can use 2 pints if you’d like).
When you reach the top, take the remaining 5 lemons and roll on the counter to soften (makes them juice better). Juice the lemons into the jar, add enough juice to cover the lemons, use more lemons if needed. Remove any air bubbles and top off with the remaining salt (you want to use about a half cup total for this recipe).
Allow lemons to ferment on the counter for 2 weeks (3-4 weeks if you used regular lemons and not Meyer). Shake the jar occasionally (every couple days) to redistribute salt. Store in the fridge and enjoy in recipes, they’ll keep for about 6 months. When you want to use them you can rinse the lemons if you don’t want to add so much salt to your recipe or you can leave them salty. They may acquire some white crystals, this is OK. Here’s a recipe for Israeli Couscous with Butternut Squash & Preserved Lemons.
Not wanting to waste any part of these lovely lemons, I decided to candy the rinds of the lemons I used for juice.
These little jewels are so tasty! I also used the syrup left from the candied lemons and made some lemon ginger hard candy. *recipe for candied lemon peel

What’s your favorite flavor?

One Year Ago

September 14th, 2009

One year ago today I was canning pears. Every time I crack open a batch of these pears we have a good laugh.
This wasn’t an ordinary pear canning experience. Not too long after starting my batch of pears a huge storm came through and the lights went out. Since this happens often here in rural Ohio, we expected them to be back on in a few minutes or perhaps an hour at most. Little did we know, it would take days! If you didn’t catch the story of romantic canning by candlelight photos, make sure you check them out!

Any fun memories from your homestead?

On the Preservation Front: In Jars

November 20th, 2008

I am part of the Harvest Keepers Challenge over at Freedom Gardens, so I’ve been trying to preserve some of the things I’ve grown, been given or bought at the Farmer’s Market. I’m not a big fan of canning, but I do all this to be more environmentally friendly and reduce the frequent flier miles of our fruits & veggies and because it’s much healthier to eat locally and preserve your own. So what have I been preserving in jars?

Chicken Stock. Not just any chicken stock, this is made with locally raised pastured chickens. I bought them from a local farm. They spent several years of their lives laying eggs and when they quit laying eggs they become soup chickens. I bought 3 of these from the farm and made 3 batches of chicken stock. I have 15 quarts of stock in my pantry. These will come in handy for those winter soups.

We use tons of tomatoes in the winter for soups and sauces. So far this summer I have roasted one bushel of tomatoes and frozen them and I have canned 7 quarts of fire-roasted tomatoes, 19 pints of diced tomatoes, 7 quarts of frozen roasted tomatoes, 6 half-pints of tomato paste and 31 pints of tomato soup. 75 lbs of these came from my garden and the rest were bought at the farmer’s market (my mom gave me a few of hers as well).

I also canned 2 batches of elderberry syrup. My mom gave me the elderberries so they were FREE (can’t beat that price). This will be so good in tea & on pancakes. I have 9 pints of elderberry syrup in the pantry (although some of this might be traded with my mom for some of her elderberry jelly). I also canned 5 pints of elderberry jelly.

Remember those pears that my mom gave us? I canned all of those (pears are a tons of work to can, especially organic ones). I ended up with 27 quarts of canned pears, 7 half pints of pear butter, 1 quart of spiced whole pears, and 10 pints of roasted pear chutney. These will come in handy this winter for pre-run & pre-race fuel.

5 quarts of pickled peppers also grace my pantry, as well as 21 pints of peaches. (As you can see by the photo, some of the peppers are already gone, Mr Chiots has been enjoying those on pizza and sandwiches.) I also have 45 pints of applesauce, 25 pints of apple butter, 12 pints of peach chutney, 7 pints of BBQ sauce, 7 pints of sweet and sour sauce, 10 pints of peach salsa, 25 pints of pickled beets, 5 pints of zucchini pickles, 12 pints of green tomato chutney, 10 half pints of hot pepper relish, and 8 half pints of mulled cider jelly. Many of these will be given as gifts during the holidays.

This doesn’t even include all the stuff I have in my freezer or dried. I’ll be going over those later this week.

When Life Gives You a Wind Storm (part 2)

September 22nd, 2008

As many of you know, on the 14th a huge windstorm (remnants of Ike) came through Ohio and left many of us sans electric for a few days. Since Mr Chiots and I both work from home and we didn’t have electric we had a few days of unplanned vacation. I was planning on doing some canning so I had bought a bushel of tomatoes at the Farmer’s Market the Saturday before. I wanted to grill them so I could can a batch of fire-roasted tomatoes (I’m a huge fan of Muir Glen Fire Roasted Tomatoes, they were the inspiration to can my own). Since we had an excess of sticks in the yard and time on our hands, we decided to build another fire last Monday evening and roast up our tomatoes.

Roasting tomatoes is super easy. You just cut the tomato in half and put skin side down on the grill or fire (you can coat with olive oil if you aren’t canning them). When the skins get blackened pull them off the grill. The skins will easily slip from the tomato then all you have to do is process them in your favorite way. I like to crush mine or cut them up and add them to sauce.

I was able to can 7 quarts of fire roasted tomatoes on Monday. Add that to the 7 quarts I did a couple weeks ago and we’ve got the makings for a good many batches of chili or sauce in the pantry.

I had a bit of sauce left over that wouldn’t fit in the jars and I made some pizza sauce, it was so delicious. I think next time I get a bunch of tomatoes a batch of pizza sauce will be in the canner. So what’s your favorite way to use tomatoes?

Sunbathing: Curing Onions

August 19th, 2008

I harvested all of my onions. They aren’t very big, that seems to be the theme of my vegetables this year. Oh well, we’ll call them shallots (more hoity-toity). This year I started red onions from seeds (they did the best, the biggest nicest onions). I also started yellow onions from sets. They’re all pretty small, I’m wondering if I can save some for sets next year?

So how do you know when to pick your onions? When the tops flop over, simple as that. When you notice they’ve flopped leave them in the ground for about 10 days. Then pull them and leave them in the sun for a day or two. Next, move them to a sheltered spot for a week or two to finish drying (turn them once a day to make sure all parts dry). Make sure you give them room to breath, I dry mine on my compost sifter in the garage, works perfectly. When they’re fully dry, pick out any thick-necked or soft bulbs and use them first. They are ready to store when the skins rattle and the roots are dry and wiry.
Anyone else have onion curing tips?

Reading & Watching

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.