This is not your typical lemon confit. Most of the time, lemon confit = lemons preserved in salt and/or spices. I mean, it must be, if Eric Ripert says so. But when I think confit I think of something slowly cooked in its own flavor. Duck confit = duck ever so slowly cooked in duck fat. Garlic confit = garlic left to slowly stew in its own garlicky oil. So lemon confit? Must be lemons slowly cooked in lemon juice, right?
Most of the time my preserves are meant to save the flavors of summer for winter. Its sort of a tradition around these parts to open up a new jar of summery berry jam when New England gets its first Nor’easter of the season – not that we had any big storms this winter. With citrus, though – and lemons in particular – I prefer to put up the lemons for summer. I freeze whole, blended lemons for lemon tart – while its good year round, it’s so SO much better with fresh summer raspberries. I dehydrate lemons for lemon water all year long and to be used in marinades and salad dressings. I freeze juice for curd – yes, I know, you can waterbath and freeze curd, but I like it better fresh. And, of course, I save the rind for adult lemonade served by the pool all summer. When I dreamed up this recipe, I realized I was lacking a savory lemon preserve. While this isn’t completely savory (there is sugar in it!) it would translate perfectly to a marinade for fish or chicken without being overly sweet like a marmalade. This is exactly what I was after.
This recipe used up the very last of my Lemon Ladies meyers and one lonely organic Eureka lemon from the store. Like all citrus recipes, if you intend on using the rind, its best to make it organic, as citrus is excellent at absorbing any nasties used in its growing.
(Actually Cooked) Lemon Confit
10 organically grown meyer lemons
1 lonely organic Eureka lemon
1/2 cup sugar*
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1-2 tablespoons fresh cracked black pepper
Fresh thyme, to taste
Cut the lemons like you would for a marmalade, making sure to discard the seeds and save as much of the juice as possible. Put the lemons, salt and pepper, into a non-reactive skillet on the stove over medium-low heat. Prepare your waterbath canner. Once they start to cook, add the lemon juice. If you didn’t have particularly juicy lemons, you can add some water or bottled lemon juice as needed. Add sugar to taste, and as much thyme as you can handle. When the lemons have cooked down to a soft texture – about 10 minutes. Just before processing, add fresh thyme and cook for about 30 seconds. Ladle hot confit into hot jars with hot, wet lids and process for about 10 minutes. As always, you could keep this fresh in your fridge for up to a month or so, but if you are making it at the tail end of winter and want to use it for the summer, I would waterbath or freeze it. Makes approximately 3 half pints.
*I used probably half a cup of sugar in this recipe in total, by sprinkling it on and tasting the preserve until the bitterness was gone. It is not meant to be sweet – just purely lemony. You may use more or less depending on your lemons or your taste.