Preserved Lemons

Preserved Lemons

In Southern California the changing of the seasons is most recognizable by the revolving myriad of fresh produce available at the farmers’ market. Yes its colder, and even rained a few days recently, but that’s about as much winter as we can expect to experience in Los Angeles. More notably citrus season.

Many citrus trees are heavy now with fruit. My neighbor has orange, grapefruit, kumquat, Clementine and blood orange trees. Soon enough the special varieties found at the market will be gone. Which is why now is the best time to preserve the perfect organic citrus that is still available. 

I was fortunate enough to be on the receiving end of a bounty of homegrown lemons. Preserved lemons are great because they are so versatile. Any savory dish that you would usually add lemon juice to (think dressings, salads, grain bowls, pasta, chicken…), you can add preserved lemons to instead. So why bother? Instead of using the juice, once the lemons are preserved you can use the whole peel and it gives dishes a richer, deeper lemon flavor.

Because you are going to be eating the peel of the lemons, or limes, they should be organic. Cleanliness is extremely important when preserving any food. Jars should be sanitized, workspace and utensils thoroughly washed before prep, and wear disposable gloves. If you have even the tiniest cut, the last thing you want to do is cover it in salt AND lemon juice.

If you are looking for ways to use the lemons, they can be used in place of lemon juice in Roasted Garlic Hummus, or added to Moroccan Salmon. This Bon Appetite recipe for Strozzapreti (pasta) with Spinach uses preserved lemons too. And if you need another reason to purchase a copy of Balaboosta or Plenty More, both books have a few recipes such as Seared Snapper with Red Pepper Lemon Sauce and Preserved Lemon Mayonnaise that use preserved lemons. Once you’ve taken the time to make them (it really only takes about 20 minutes), by the time they are preserved you are going to have more uses for them then you know what to do with.

Preserved Lemons

Salt magically preserves lemons and makes the peel an edible delicacy.
Prep Time20 mins
Course: Condiment
Cuisine: Mediterranean
Keyword: kosher, lemon, preserve
Author: Hana Itzhaki

Ingredients

  • 4-7 organic lemons or limes
  • 1 c. table salt
  • 1 preserving jar with lid

Instructions

  • 1) Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Submerge the glass jar in the boiling water for 5-10 minutes to sanitize. Remove the pot from the heat and allow jar to cool.
  • 2) Wash lemons with a few drops of produce wash and a scrub brush. Place washed lemons on a clean surface on paper towels and allow to dry.
  • 3) Prepare prep area by placing salt in a bowl. Put on disposable gloves and slice lemons 1/4 in. thick.
  • 4) Take lemon slices one at a time and coat either side with salt. Layer slices in sanitized jar. Repeat until the jar is packed full with slices.
  • 5) Top jar with additional salt a close with a lid.
  • 6) Allow lemons to preserve at room temperature for one month. After one month lemons are ready to be used. Store preserved lemons in the fridge for future use.
  • 7) When ready to use, remove desired amount from jar and rinse. Discard lemon fruit and use peel.

Notes

Because you are going to be eating the peel of the lemons, or limes, they should be organic. Cleanliness is extremely important when preserving any food. Jars should be sanitized, workspace and utensils thoroughly washed before prep, and wear disposable gloves. If you have even the tiniest cut, the last thing you want to do is cover it in salt AND lemon juice.

Challah: Recipe + 12 Tips Techniques and Resources

Challah

Challah Recipe + 12 Tips, Techniques, and Resourses for Making it Easier

Fluffy, chewy challa bread perfect for Shabbat.
Prep Time2 hrs
Cook Time40 mins
Total Time2 hrs 40 mins
Course: Bread
Cuisine: Jewish
Keyword: bread, challah, kosher, Shabbat, vegitarian
Servings: 8
Author: Hana Itzhaki

Ingredients

  • 5 lbs. High Gluten White Flour
  • 6.5 c. Water warm (between 105F – 115F)
  • 1 c. Sugar divided
  • 3 T. Instant dry yeast
  • 2 Eggs large plus 1 egg for brushing (optional)
  • 1/2 c. Canola Oil
  • 1 T. Salt
  • Canola cooking spray
  • Sesame seeds optional

Instructions

  • Sift flour into an extra large bowl.
  • Add 1/2 c. sugar to the flour.
  • In a separate bowl, dissolve 1/2 c. sugar into the water.
  • Add yeast to the water. Stir gently to moisten all the yeast but do not mix. Allow the yeast to bloom 5-10 minutes. You will know it’s ready when a layer of foam has formed on top of the water.
  • Add 2 eggs, slightly beaten to the flour and knead until combined.
  • Add the water mixture to the flour and knead thoroughly. The dough should be sticky. If it is too dry to incorporate all of the flour, add additional warm water a few tablespoons at a time until the dough is moist enough to combine all of the flour.
  • Add the oil, knead to combine.
  • Add the salt, knead to combine.
  • Spray the dough with canola cooking spray and loosely cover with plastic wrap. Allow the dough to rise in the bowl for 30-45 minutes.
  • Take challah portion, wrap in foil and and burn on a gas burner. See notes below.
  • Once the dough has risen, divide it into six equal portions. Spray your work surface with cooking spray and your hands as well to keep the dough from sticking.
  • Braid the dough and place it into medium size loaf pans lined with baking paper.
  • Brush with beaten egg and sprinkle with sesame seeds. (Optional)
  • Allow to rise 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  • Preheat oven to 375F.
  • Bake for 40 minutes. If using both oven shelves, be sure to rotate from top to bottom half way through baking time.
  • Allow challah to cook completely. Store in Renyald’s Oven Bags.

Notes

12 Tips, Techniques and Resources for Making Challah:
  1. When sifting the flour, I put the whole bowl in my sink and sift it into the bowl there to keep from dusting the entire kitchen with flour.
  2. High gluten flour is better for bread because it creates elasticity which gives it a chewier, bread like texture.
  3. Use a digital candy thermometer to take the temperature of the water. The yeast will not bloom if the water is too cold. And if the water is too hot it will kill the yeast. If the yeast does not bloom then it most likely isn’t fresh and should be replaced. 
  4. The dough should be super sticky. It takes a good bit of emunah (faith) to know that you will be able to work with it once it has risen. Sticky, wet dough = fuffy, moist challah. Dry crumbly dough = dry dense challah.
  5. If you’ve never done the mitzvah of taking challah you can learn about it here.
  6. In addition to spraying your work surface and hands with cooking spray when braiding the dough you can spray the balls of dough before you knead and shape them. This will keep them from sticking. Never add additional flour. Adding flour will make it dry and dense. 
  7. If you would like to learn about braiding and shaping challah I suggest checking out Youtube videos. There are many options for 3, 4, 5, and 6 strand braids. I use a 4 strand braid which you can learn how to make here.
  8. I prefer to divide the dough into six equal medium sized loaves. If you want lager or smaller loaves then divide it into fewer or more portions. The baking time will need to also be adjusted depending on if your loaves are larger or smaller. 
  9. Also I prefer to use Jetfoil aluminum medium sized loaf pans. This keeps the challah uniform in shape. If you don’t want to use the loaf pans the challah can be baked directly on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. 
  10. It’s easier to fit the challah into the pans if you lay them on the baking paper first and then transfer into the pan. 
  11. If you choose to use the egg wash and sesame seeds be sure to brush it on shortly after you put it in the pan before the challah rises a second time. If you wait too long it will deflate the challah. 
  12. Renyald’s cooking bags are the best for storing challah in because you can take them right from the freezer and put them directly in the oven to reheat. They keep the challah from drying out and maintains that just baked fluffy texture.

Do you have a favorite challah recipe or topping that you like to use? I’d love to hear what you have to say so leave me a comment below or you can email me directly at hana@lakosherkitchen.com

*This is NOT a sponsored post. I am not being compensated in any way for references made to specific products or brands. All opinions are my own.

Custom Kosher Kitchen

Hi, and welcome to my kitchen! Let me show you around. When we purchased our home in 2013 the first room that I suggested we change was the kitchen. Instead of it being in the front of the house facing the street, we relocated to the back, facing the yard. This was the beginning of what snowballed into an addition and a complete remodel of the house. But after all the construction dust was finally wiped away, it was more than worth the time, effort and cost that was put into making the changes.



My husband and I designed the kitchen to serve our kosher dietary needs with an open floor plan to allow for an easy flow into the living and dinning spaces. There is a deep pantry closet with pull out shelving for easy access and deep pantry cabinets that are used for storing items bought in bulk and larger appliances such as the slow cooker and coffee urn. All of the built-in appliances are Frigidaire brand. We’ve had the refrigerator for almost 15 years and had the cabinets built to accommodate its size. The electric double wall oven conveniently has the “Sabbath mode” feature that allows the oven to stay on indefinitely and the door to be opened without the lights coming on.

In addition to baking and roasting, we use it to warm our Friday night Shabbat meal by using the “Sabbath mode’ setting and putting the food in before the onset of Shabbat. I chose to have the top oven reserved as the dairy oven and the bottom oven as the meat oven because I use the meat oven more frequently and thought it would be easier to access instead of having to lift heavier roasts into the upper oven. The space below the ovens was originally meant for a warming drawer but because we use the “Sabbath mode” on the oven there wasn’t a need for an additional warmer. The drawer that is in its place is used to store kitchen linens. The back right corner is designated as the dairy corner with an extra deep single sink and dishwasher. Along with the microwave and toaster oven (bought for $20 at Walgreens when we were just married) breakfast and school lunch prep happens here and most weeknight dinners.

We chose the 5 burner gas range top because of it’s practical design. The grates are on a single plane which allows pots and pans to be easily slid from one burner to another. I liked that the ignition knobs are located on the top and side of the burners instead of front and center because it deters children from reaching to play with them.

The back left corner is used for a coffee/tea station and baking area. The cabinets above hold baking staples while the cabinets below contain baking and sheet pans. Both of the bottom corner cabinets have two shelf lazy Susan hardware for easy access and to make the most of the space. The left side of the kitchen has a double sink that is used for meat and parve dishes. And a dishwasher for meat dishes.

Instead of an island, the end of the kitchen that separates it from the living and dinning areas is capped with a counter height bar. It’s a convenient place for the children to work on homework while I cook dinner or to lay out a buffet while entertaining. We chose quartz countertops because of their durability and a glossy stain resistant finish on the cabinets because they are easily wiped cleaned. Lastly, during the final phases of construction, we decided to have a vaulted ceiling with two skylights to allow for ample natural light durning the day and two sets of recessed LED lights.

Have you remodeled your kitchen or are you planning to do so? What is one thing you wish you could change about your kitchen? I’d love to hear what you have to say so leave me a comment below or you can email me directly at hana@lakosherkitchen.com 

Thanks so much for stopping by. Come by anytime to see what’s cooking!

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