Moroccan Preserved Lemons w/ Only 2 Ingredients

Have you ever wanted to make a recipe, only to realize it requires a special ingredient?  You drive to three stores across town and no one has it.  Then you go home, look it up on Google, and it’s ridiculously simple to make.  Yep, that’s Moroccan Preserved Lemons.  So hard to find, yet so easy to make.  It only requires a little bit of prep work and time.   Salt Typically, I don’t count salt as an ingredient.  Every home has it.  But in this case, I felt it was only right to count it because this recipe requires a truckload of the stuff.  I typically use kosher salt as it dissolves really well in this recipe.  You can also use sea salt.  If you’re not sure which salt to use, be sure to read my post on Types of Salt. Why So Much Salt? So you may have noticed this recipe calls for an insane amount of salt right?  Well, that’s because we are preserving the lemons, not fermenting them.  We are using the salt to stop any harmful microbes from growing, while preserving the lemons.  So yes, you really do need that much salt.  It keeps those nasty microbes away. What Can I Use Preserved Lemons For? Preserved lemons have been used for hundreds of years in North Africa.  They then spread through the Mediterranean and Middle East.  Moroccan Preserved Lemons originated out of a need to have the taste of fresh lemons all year long.  Shakshuka is one of the most popular dishes that use Preserved Lemons.  This dish is a personal favorite of mine.  But really they can be used in a multitude of dishes.  They have the ability to transform stews, tomato sauce dishes, pizzas, and more!  It’s like lemon’s funky cousin on steroids.  A little goes a long way.  So start with a little and then add more if you like.   What Kind of Lemons Should I Use? Ideally you would use a thin skinned lemon.  The closest variety in the US would be the Meyer Lemon.  However, not only are these hard to find where I live, I have a lemon tree.  It produces more lemons than I can possibly eat.  They are a thicker skinned variety and they work just fine.  So use what you have.  Once you get the hang of it, search out the thin skinned varieties.  See which you like better. Steps First put two tablespoons of kosher salt in the bottom of your jar. Then, cut one lemon to remove the stem end.  The side that would have been connected to the tree.   Once this is done you will need to cut the lemon lengthwise into fourths.  You want to try not to cut the lemon all the way through.  I have attached a picture for easy viewing.  The lemon should end up having an X or + shape pattern lengthwise.   Open the lemon where you made the cuts and put one teaspoon of kosher salt inside the lemons. Give the lemon a bit of a shimmy to move the salt around.  It’s gonna make a mess and that’s fine.  You want as much of the salt inside as possible. Turn the lemon cut side down and place in your mason jar or canning jar.  Give the lemon a firm squeeze to release a lot of the juices.  Try to release as much as you can without breaking the lemon apart. Repeat these steps with each of the lemons.  Place each lemon in the jar making sure to pack them tightly.  Fill almost to the top of the jar leaving about an inch of space.   Once filled, add two tablespoons of kosher salt to the top of jar and close the lid.  If the lemon juice does not go all the way to the top of jar, use additional lemon juice until it covers them. Give the jar a shake and leave it on your counter to rest.  Each day, for seven days, give it a shake.  After seven days, stash it in the fridge.  They won’t be fully cured for 4-6 weeks in the refrigerator.  You can use them earlier but they won’t have the same flavor. How to Use It’s important to realize that when you go to use these, you will need to first rinse the salt off.  Nobody wants that much in a dish.  Second, you will be removing the insides of the lemons.  Third, you are only going to use the peel.  So, once the skin is removed you will chop the peel very fine and add it to your dish.  Super easy! Storage Once everything is in the jar, you will need to shake these once a day for 7 days.  Then they are done.  You will notice the jar goes from clear to cloudy.  That’s totally normal.  Stash in the fridge.  These will last anywhere from 6 months to 1 year in the fridge in an airtight container.  The salt will eventually degrade the lemons and they will get very soft.  At which point I make a new batch. Morrocan Preserved Lemons are great in everything from soups to pilafs. It only needs two ingredients and time to make this umami packed flavor bomb. This recipe is so easy to make you won’t believe you didn’t do it sooner!  

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A bowl of pickled onions sitting on a table

My Favorite Raw Pickled Red Onion Recipe

I fell in love with onions on a trip abroad many years ago. Everywhere we went they had cheese and onion sandwiches. Sounds gross, I know. But we got so many of them we fell in love with them.  Fast forward to my pregnancy years later and I could no longer eat onions. Not red or white. This went on for years. It didn’t matter if you cooked them or they were raw. I would always get sick to my stomach.  Now many years later I still can’t eat them raw. I can however eat raw pickled onions. This recipe is such a quick and simple raw version of Quick Pickled Red Onions. It requires almost no ingredients and can be made the night before. It is gut friendly because of the apple cider vinegar and raw honey. It makes the onions easier to digest. I’m going to include instructions for the raw version as well as a faster blanched version to save time. Recommendations and Adjustments When I make this I use raw honey as the sweetener. It just ups the nutritional factor. It changes the flavor in a way I really like as well.  It’s also another food that is alive. Which is so very important to our bodies. I tried to balance the vinegar with the sweetness. You could adjust this anywhere from 1 TBS to 2 TBS depending on how sweet you like your pickles.  Finally I recommend using kosher salt. Kosher salt is best in this recipe as it dissolves rapidly without applying tons of heat. Other salts will work but may be gritty. Try to find a finely ground one so that it will dissolve easier.  If you are unsure on which Type of Salt to use be sure to read my post all about salts HERE. Once you slice the onion thinly put it in your favorite canning jar.  I prefer a wide mouth jar for this application.  Add all the other ingredients to a separate pot and turn the stove on for one minute. Just long enough to warm them but not cook them. Stir everything well to dissolve. If you have a little salt at the bottom it’s fine. Add this liquid to your onions. Lid up and stash in the fridge 1-3 days for best results.   Vegan Option To make this vegan replace the honey with organic cane sugar or maple syrup.  It will alter the flavor of the final product depending on which you use.  Sugar will be more neutral than the maple syrup. Raw or Quick If the raw factor doesn’t matter to you or you just need these done fast for a gathering, follow the above recipe. Instead of leaving them on the stove for a minute, turn the heat on medium and bring all the ingredients to a simmer. Then pour over the onions while still hot. Leave 15 minutes and then you are done.  I’ve made this recipe both ways and it works just fine. This recipe will keep in the fridge for a month or more.  I can’t keep it in the house longer than that.  It gets eaten to fast.  You can also reuse the brine several times before it loses quality.  Just get more onions and repeat.  Super easy. This recipe is raw, paleo, dairy free, vegetarian and can easily be made vegan.  Put it on anything and everything.  It’s good on tacos, in burritos, hamburgers, poutine, egg dishes, Pozole, soups and stews.  Let me know what you use it on.  If you make any mods that are amazing,  I’d love to know. This is an easy to make Pickled Red Onion Recipe. It has only three ingredients and can easily be made vegan. These pickled onions are great on everything from hotdogs to tacos.

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Different Glass Fermentation Weights being displayed to show the differences.

What are Fermentation Weights and How To Use Them?

  So if you haven’t already guessed it, I am a big fan of fermentation.  We spend so much time buying supplements like probiotics to keep us healthy.  We forget many times that food is medicine.  When we make our own live ferments, the probiotics are fresh and very alive.  The problem is fermenting has rules.  That’s where fermentation weights come in. What Are Fermentation Weights? Fermentation weights are simply a heavy, non porous object that weighs your food that is fermenting down.  Food that is exposed to oxygen breeds bacteria and mold.  So pushing your food under the brine or liquid you are using keeps it free from those elements.  This allows the healthy bacteria to do there job without exposing you to the nastys. You could use anything for this job.  Something as primitive as a sanitized rock a plastic bag will work.  Many people use plastic bag filled with water as a weight.  I have tried them all and while they are mostly successful, they are not my favorite way. Types of Weights We are only going to talk about a few easy to find, easy to use weights in this post.  They are: Glass Fermentation Weights (No Handles) Glass Fermentation Weights (With Handles) Stoneware Weights   Glass Fermentation Weights (No Handles) Glass fermentation weights without handles look like glass hockey pucks.  They are a solid piece of glass with the edges smoothed.  The pros to this style are that they are extremely easy to clean.  They can be ordered in both wide mouth and standard mouth jars.  You can purchase in bulk so if you do a lot of fermenting like I do, you can save money by buying more at once.  These have come down quite a lot in price since I purchased them years ago.  So a bulk pack of six fermentation weights without handles is under $20.  The cons to this style is that they are very slippery.  I mean very slippery.  It’s like trying to grab a fish out of a pond.  Also, they are not dishwasher safe as my husband can attest to.  But other than that they work well. Glass Fermentation Weights (With Handles) Glass fermentation weights with handles come in several designs.  They are made so that they can be easily picked up out of the jar without too much difficulty.  The kind I have are made with grooves in them for easy pick up.  But they also manufacture ones with a little handle.   Here’s the problem I have with these.  First, they are no more easy to get out of the jar than the flat disks.  Once, they are wet it’s still a slippery piece of glass.  Second, they cost more and are not significantly more effective.  Third, maybe i am the only person to have this happen to them but I find the grooves get mold trapped in between them.  I have lost several ferments this way.  I find myself turning them upside down to make them flat like my weights without handles.  This prevents the mold but completely defeats having the handle.  Fourth, due to the grooves it’s more challenging to keep clean. Stoneware Fermentation Weights Stoneware fermentation weights are designed for crocks.  They usually come with two half moon shaped pieces that sit inside the crock.  They can be used in any container so if you have one already but don’t have a crock, don’t stress.  The biggest drawback to these is that they are usually quite large because the crocks are bigger than mason jars.  They may not fit a standard size canning jar.  Also these are very expensive because they are made of stone.  They cost on average the same price for one as a pack of six of the glass weights. Final Thoughts If I had to choose just one type of fermentation weight, I would choose the plain glass fermentation weights without handles.  They are inexpensive, easy to clean and reusable for as long as you take care of them.  These work perfectly inside any of the airlock jars or mason jars.  If you haven’t heard of an airlock jar make sure to read my post on them HERE.  While they are a little difficult to remove from their containers, it’s a small price to pay for how well they work. Just make sure to have the right size weight for the right size jar.  Let me know what kind of weights are your favorite.

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A variety of Fermentation Jars on a table to show the differences.

Fermentation Jars and Lids

  When I first started fermenting in jars, everything I made came out moldy or gross.  It’s amazing I didn’t give up.  Most fermentation of old was done in dark cool places.  This does not describe where I live.  It’s hot and it’s dry.  It’s not an easy place to ferment foods.  Then one day I discovered fermentation jars and lids and my whole world changed.   If you have never tried these, you’re missing out.  There are many different kinds which we will talk about.  I’ll also talk about my favorite. Types of Jars There are a few types of these jars and lids readily available on the internet.  So if you can’t find them near your house, you can get them shipped to you.  They are: Fermentation CrockBubbling Airlock Lids and JarsSuction Style Airlock LidsPickle Pipes Fermentation Crocks Fermentation crocks are the original fermentation jars made of either ceramic, stoneware or earthenware jars most of the time.  They sort of look like cookie jars with or without lids.  They can also come weighted or without weights.  Some of them can be sealed with water to make them airtight as well.   If used properly these can last for years and produce wonderful ferments.  There is a reason they have stood the test of time.  There are some downsides to them.  They are the most expensive of the group especially if you get a good quality one.  They are not as no fuss as some of the other options either.  You must check on your crock and remove scum from the top as you ferment if its not water sealed.  There is definitely a learning curve to getting these right.   The nice thing is that fermentation crocks are easy to clean and sanitize.  They are made to last for years so you won’t need to replace it unless you damage or break it. Bubbling Airlock Lids and Jars These are an amazing invention.  The bubbling airlock can consist of a jar and separate lid combo which is usually attached to a mason jar.  It can also be one complete jar and lid unit.  It can have a single bubbler or a double.  The main thing you are looking for is quality.  Make sure the lids contain a seal inside the lid and that all the components fit together tightly. Once the airlock jar is sealed, gases form inside the jar from the fermentation process.  Those gases push up and force oxygen out through the bubbler which gets expelled outside of the jar.  This creates an extremely low oxygen environment and prevents mold growth.   I absolutely love these jars and lids.  I use them all the time.  They are the jars I used to make my Fermented Chopped Garlic recipe.  They are my go to fermentation jar.  The only time I have ever had one fail was from user error.  I overfilled my jar and it exploded through the bubbler.  My bad! They are easy to clean and maintain.  They last a long time if properly cared for.  The only negative is that there are a lot of parts, but even that is worth it. Suction Style Airlock Lids Suction style airlock lids are a newer take on the airlock lid.  They are a screw on lid that goes on your mason jar at home.  They have a gasket ring on the inside to seal the jar similar to the airlock.  Once you have the lid on you use a suction pump (like a reverse bicycle air pump) to pull out the remaining oxygen from the jar.  As the jar ferments, gasses are allowed to escape through the one way valve you use to suction out the air.  Again similar to the airlock jars.  Some of them even have dials on them that let you know when you started your ferment. I have a set of these and they definitely work.  Although I do have the occasional jar fail.  I find that certain ferments work better in this jar than others.  The nicest part about these is that they are definitely more space saving than the crocks or the airlock jars.  Which is really nice if you have a small house.  Suction style airlock lids are also really easy to clean.  The main drawback to these are price.  They cost almost double what the airlock jars do.   Pickle Pipes I had my first experience with Pickle Pipes at my cousins house where she was fermenting some food.  I thought these were fascinating.  It’s a small ring of silicone with a nipple on the top kind of like a baby bottle.  You can attach it to any mason jar to turn it into a fermentation jar.  My cousin just loved them and they worked great for her. So I ran home and bought a set of Pickle Pipes.  I love the design.  They take up almost no space and are almost stackable.  They cost about the same as the airlock lids.  So I gave them a go and immediately had mold growing within a few days.  I assumed this was user error so I tried another batch.  Mold again.   What I think is happening is that while these are referred to as airlock lids, they do not keep as much out as an actual airlock jar or suction style lid.  The other problem is the climate I live in.  It’s already not a great environment for fermentation.  Which is why I think they work so well for my cousin.  She lives in a much cooler area in the mountains.   So while I think these probably work great for some people, they aren’t for everyone. Final Thoughts So the truth is you can ferment in any jar with a little work.  But I’m lazy and I like a very low rate of failure when I ferment foods.  It takes time, energy and money to produce them.  I personally hate throwing them away.  So while any of these

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Fermented Garlic sitting in a bowl on a bamboo plate.

Simple Fermented Chopped Garlic

  I can’t for the life of me remember why I started making this Fermented Chopped Garlic recipe. It could be because it only requires two ingredients, Salt and garlic.  Maybe it’s because I hate messing with and chopping garlic.  It could also be that I forget to purchase it from the store when I run out. This recipe serves all of my lazy girl needs. I only have to make this once every 6 months because it lasts forever in the fridge. Which also means I only have to deal with garlic every six months. Win win. If you don’t wish to deal with fresh garlic at all you can simply purchase the pre-peeled bags of it to make this recipe. I’ve done it. Both ways work. Just know fresher is always going to taste just a little better. In this recipe I use either Kosher Salt or Himalayian Pink Salt.  If you are unsure of which salt to use read my post on Types of Salt.  It will explain more. A Word About Airlock Jars The only piece of hardware I really recommend is an Airlock jar. I have used many different jars for fermentation. Airlock jars are my absolute favorite. My husband handmade mine. But, if you aren’t into that you can simply purchase them on the World Wide Web. If you don’t know which kind of fermentation jars to get be sure to check out my post all about them HERE.  I like to leave this to sit for at least two weeks. But it’s usually longer. The garlic will change in color slowly. It will naturally darken. I’ve had some of it turn green. It’s totally fine as long as its not moldy. This usually has to do with either the age of the garlic or the compounds in the garlic changing from the fermentation process. Make sure not to fill the container less than an inch to the top. The garlic will expand after several days due to the fermentation process. If you over fill the jar, the garlic will attempt to escape your container. This is why I love airlock jars. Most fermentation needs as little air as possible to prevent mold growth. So typically you want your product either submerged under liquid or filled near the top of the jar to prevent oxygen. But with the airlock it removes most of the oxygen due to the expanse of gases pushing more air out of the one way valve without the need for extra food in the jar. It prevents mold and you don’t need to overfill the container.   How to Fill the Bubbler Once you have the product filled make sure to fill the top bubbler to the designated line.  Most people use water which will work fine.  I however, like to use vodka.  Vodka tends to keep it mold free and more sanitary which I’m all about.  For some reason I also find it makes it the airlock work  better. Either way, make sure if you keep the jar fermenting for several weeks you check on the liquid level in the bubbler and refill as needed. Do I Need a Weight for This? So I use fermentation weights for most of my ferments.  This is one of the exceptions.  It is a very dry ferment.  So there is not a lot of liquid.  There really isn’t anywhere for the fermentation weight to go.  So it really isn’t necessary or very functional. Making the Next Batch and Storage Once you have leftover garlic from your first batch, make sure to mix a little with the new one. This will help the fermentation process to go much faster on the next batch. Be aware that when you break the seal to open it, the scent of garlic will knock your socks off. The garlic scent as well as the flavor increases with the fermentation process.  So you can reduce the amount of garlic in your recipes if you like. Storage and Cleanup Once you are all done, store it in the refrigerator and use as needed.  It will keep for around six months.  I recommend keeping one airlock jar just for garlic if you can.  I also recommend hand washing your container and airlocks even if they are dishwasher safe.  If you don’t it will make your dishwasher smell like garlic for a week.   This recipe is easy to double or even triple. I make a pound and a half at a time. Don’t forget to use it to make garlic bread. You’ll never want store bought again.  Fermented Chopped Garlic    

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