This winter I’ve tapped into an amazing citrus resource: Florida. My mother lives in Delray Beach, and it’s not entirely the Florida you may be thinking of. She works for a CSA, and they are now in the midst of their growing season. She is also a master gardener who not only has an orchid fetish, but also a tropical fruit fetish. She’s in the know with some folks, and what do I get out of it? Some really wonderful, organic, just-picked citrus. Her friend Jean has a calamondin (or kalamansi) bush and she allowed my mother to pick the leavings. Five pounds were packed up and sent directly to me. Plus, I received the bonus of a few large sour oranges. Thanks, Mom!
Calamondins look like teeny tiny oranges, but are more similar to limes in taste. They look like they’ll taste sweet, but pack a powerful sour punch. Used in Southeast Asia, they are often picked when green; orange is considered over ripe. Some people compare the taste to the more well-known yuzu, or even prefer it. The sour oranges are a type of bitter orange, but I don’t believe they are Sevilles, technically speaking.
There are a few things I made with these special citruses, but I was most excited by preserving them with salt. I love the idea of salt-preserved oranges, or limes, even. I've seen recipes for blood oranges and navels, too, but I would think you would want to stick with a more acidic fruit. I didn't get creative with spices, preferring instead to taste the final product unmarred. However, all the usual suspects I will bet are welcome: black peppercorns, cinnamon, coriander, bay leaf, etc.
I followed the basic routine for lemons preserved in salt, starting with a clean jar with a tablespoon of kosher salt in the bottom. I cut them in quarters, leaving one end intact and salted their insides. As I pushed the citrus in the jars, they released their juices and are eventually submerged. They then sit for a month in this salty bath, while you invert them daily to distribute the mixture. One fermented, the jars can stay in the refrigerator for a year or more. I love salt-preserved citrus in the winter; they brighten up heavy stews and braised meats. What's your favorite way to use them up?
More salt-preserved citrus:
Hitchhiking to Heaven’s Vietnamese Preserved Lemons (A new technique)
Tigress in a Pickle's My Favorite Preserved Lemons (A spicy version)
How to Make Preserved Lemons from Simply Recipes (Step-by-step basics)