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Eating and drinking local and seasonal is an easy way to be more sustainable. But what if you have a hankering for something out of season? The two recipes below use simple techniques to transform the flavour of abundant fruits and extend their shelf life. By our guest writer and go-to chef Craig Grozier of Fallachan Dining.
1. Preserved Lemons. There's a long tradition in North Africa of preserving lemons in salt to make them last and these are utilised in dishes like Tagines. Not only can you replace the olive in a dirty martini with the rind; the sweet, sour and salty natural liquor in the jars makes this pairing of gin and lemon shine. Don't throw anything away here! Be creative with the "waste" lemon flesh - try it infused in a neutral spirit with a bit of sugar for a riff on limoncello, blend it with some olive oil to marinate meat, or use with uncooked white fish to give you a preserved lemon ceviche.
2. Lacto-fermented Gooseberries. A garden fruit in season from May to September in the northern hemisphere, this gooseberry recipe is an easy, summer-y introduction to lacto-fermentation. As well as being fantastic in a martini. The preserved gooseberries make a great substitute for an acidic olive or cornichon, making them fantastic in a martini, pairing well with oily fish like mackerel, or instead of apple with pork.
Preserved Lemons with Honey
1.5kg thin-skinned lemons
250g lemon juice
700g warm water
1 or 2 two litre kilner-style jar, depending on how big your lemons are
Method 1. Wash and dry the lemons. Cut them lengthways into quarters from the point of the lemon to three-quarters of the way down, making sure to keep them still attached and joined together at the base. Place them in a plastic bag and freeze them for 24 hours. This speeds up the maturation process, cutting the time down by about 2 months. 2. The next day, remove the lemons from the freezer and allow them to fully defrost. 3. Stuff the centre of each lemon with a heaped teaspoon of salt. Sterilise your jars. 4. Neatly arrange the lemons in the jars in layers, sprinkling a layer of salt as you go. 5. Mix the lemon juice, honey and warm water until the honey has dissolved, then pour into both the jars equally, making sure the lemons are fully covered. Close the jars and make sure they are completely closed. 6. Take a piece of cardboard and place it on the bottom of a large saucepan. Place your jars on top of the cardboard (the card stops the jars from vibrating), then cover the jars with warm water and bring to a boil. Boil for about 6 minutes to ensure they are pasteurised, then remove from the heat and leave to cool. 7. Store in a cool, dry place for one month before opening. Once opened, store in the fridge indefinitely.
Lacto Fermented Gooseberries
500g gooseberries (slightly underripe are best for this recipe)
400g mineral water
27g maldon salt
150g yoghurt muslin cloth
Method 1. First you need to make your whey. Hang the yogurt in a muslin (cheese cloth) to collect the whey. This can be done by tying up the muslin cloth to hold the yoghurt, then place the muslin ball in a sieve over a bowl and leave overnight in the fridge. The liquid that drains out is your yoghurt whey. 2. Give the gooseberries a quick wash in a colander. 3. Whisk the salt, water and 27g of whey together, until the salt dissolves. 4. Add the gooseberries to a sterilised jar, then pour over the salt and whey water mixture. 5. Using a piece of cling film rolled into a flat round shape about the diameter of the jar, push it into the jar and lay it on top of the water surface to ensure all of the gooseberries are fully submerged in the liquid. 6. Leave for 7-10 days at room temperature. Taste after 7 days, they should be slightly effervescent and make your mouth salivate and pucker at the same time! 7. Once ready, store in the fridge. 8. Use some of the fermenting liquid to make your next dirty martini.
*(The whey isn't essential but it gives the best flavour to the ferment and also enhances and guarantees quick and safe fermentation.)