February was Salt Preservation month in the Food in Jars Challenge. I was really excited about this challenge because of the roots of salt in human history and my new found love for fermentation and food preservation. Salt has been used throughout history as not only a traditional food preservation technique but has also been used in religious observations dating back to 6050 BC in Egypt, as a form of currency in Ancient Rome, and words like “soldier” and “salary” have Latin roots.
This month I have tackled and plan to start many projects that I have never attempted before. The first on the list was salt preserved lemons.
Salt Preserved Lemons
Surprisingly this was a super easy project that took me all of about 5 minutes to complete. Waiting for it to ferment before they are ready to use is where your patience is called into play.
Wash your lemons, cut them into quarters and layer them in a jar with salt. That’s it! You can add other spices to the mix as well. For example, I added a cinnamon stick and some peppercorns. Let your lemons sit in your pantry for about 4 days shaking them a couple of times per day to distribute the salt and juices from the lemons.
Make sure your lemons are covered by juice by the 4th day. Then just put them in your refrigerator for 3 weeks to finish up. Give them a wash and blend some up in hummus, grill on top of your fish, add to a kebab, salad dressing or anywhere else you want a funky fermented lemon flavor to give your dish a punch in the face. These will keep in your fridge for up to 6 months, but I guarantee they will not last that long!
Cured Egg Yolks
Cured egg yolks were my next adventure. Although I had never heard of this umami delicacy before, they have been used in Chinese cooking for a very long time. Another simple recipe of pure salt, or a salt/sugar mixture if you prefer a sweeter flavor.
Cover the egg yolks in salt for 4 days. When you remove them from the mixture they will be pliable and easy to handle. Simply rinse them off, pat dry and finish the process in your food dehydrator for speed. Others hang them in cheese cloth in the refrigerator (I wasn’t going to wait that long for them to finish). The finished product has a similar texture to Parmesan cheese. Grate them over your pasta, add to avocado toast, incorporate them in a dipping sauce, their uses are endless.
The key is to start with a farm fresh egg. I bought mine from Stoneberg Alpaca Farm. Local and fresh is always better in taste and nutrition. My eggs were laid that same day, instead of the ones you get in the store that are 45 days plus old by the time you purchase them. The chickens are free range eating bugs out in the field and living a happy life side by side with the Alpacas. Plus by spending your money locally you help small businesses succeed (another plus in my book!).
The month is not over yet and I still have a few projects on the books. Sauerkraut in my fermentation crock that I got for Christmas, Herb Salt, Citrus Salt, and maybe I will even try my hand a Gravlax. Experimenting in the kitchen is not only fun, but it is rewarding to be able to feed your family fresh, nutritious foods. What are you experimenting with this month?