"Chose promise, chose due!" is a French expression that approximately translates to "promises are made to be kept". And as promised, this is the recipe for the citron confit I served to my family last night as part of the lemon tofu dish. I made it with approximately two pounds of freshly picked Meyer lemons from our garden.
You'll see that a lot of sugar is required to obtain the beautiful candied coating. But fear not, only a few thin slices per serving are necessary to flavor your dishes and the citron confit stores well for months. The one thing to keep in mind is to use organic, pesticide-free lemons, so even the rind is safely edible.
Two days before...
Wash the lemons and prick them using a sharp (metal) skewer. Place them in a stockpot. Cover with cold water and let soak overnight.
The next day...
Drain the water and replace it with fresh water. Bring to a boil. Cook for 10 minutes. Drain the water and let the lemons cool to room temperature. Cut them in half and delicately remove the seeds, which can be discarded.
Combine 9 cups granulated sugar and the filtered water in the stockpot. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Add the cloves and star anise (if using). Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer and cook uncovered for 30 minutes. Remove from the heat. Let cool to room temperature, cover with a lid and store in the refrigerator overnight.
The following day...
Remove and reserve the lemons from the syrup. Add 2¼ cups granulated sugar. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Heat the syrup until it's bubbling, then return the lemons to the pot. Lower the heat to simmer and cook uncovered for 30 minutes. Remove from the heat, let cool to room temperature, then chill for at least 2 hours.
Repeat the same procedure (remove the lemons, add 2¼ cups sugar to syrup, then return the lemons and cook them for 30 minutes). Discard the star anise, cloves and lemon seeds (if any). Let cool to room temperature.
You have 3 options to store them:
- Transfer the lemons to a jar and cover with the thick syrup (see tips). Place a heavy weight so the lemons remain in the syrup and seal the jar. Store in the refrigerator. It can be kept for up to 6 months.
- Remove the lemons from the syrup. Place the lemon halves, rind side down, onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Place in a pre-heated oven for 1 hour at 170°F. Store in an airtight container, stacking the lemons with parchment squares between them to prevent them from sticking to each other.
- Same procedure as #2, but let the lemons air-dry for 24 hours instead.
The applications for the citron confit are varied; you can use it in savory dishes, especially for poultry or in desserts. It's delicious if you steep it with tea too. I'll post more recipes soon.
Pricking the lemons and soaking them helps them engorge with water.
Boiling the lemons diminishes the bitterness of the rind and softens it as well.
The preserves will taste better if you let the sealed jar sit for at least a week before opening.
To prevent any mishap, make sure the citron confit is submerged in the syrup and is not in contact with the air.