Ferment Pickle Dry – Cookbook Review and Preserved Lemons

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Over the last few years I have seen a revival of ancient cooking techniques, such as pickling, fermenting and drying, and along with this new found enthusiasm has sprung some exciting and informative books to help teach and guide us on our new culinary journey. I was recently sent a copy of a beautiful new cookbook that has recently been published.fermented-apples-p-98

Photo credit: Kim Lightbody

Aptly named ‘Ancient methods, modern meals: Ferment, Pickle, Dry’ by Simon Poffley and Gaba Smolinska-Poffley, published by Frances Lincoln, it’s beautiful matt photographs, by Kim Lightbody (see above and below re photo credit) really draw the reader in to showcase the limitless range of possibilities that are on offer within the book.

The book acts as a gentle guide through the different processes, providing both simple, and some adventurous, preserving recipes to try at home. In addition it also shows you how to transform your newly preserved ingredients into fabulous dishes – for example alone side ‘pickled French beans’ is the recipe for ‘pickled bean falafel’.

At the start of the book it gives an overview of what you actually need to get going, sterilising tips, as well as key ingredients that you need. The book is then naturally split into three under the techniques outlined on the front cover.kimchi-images

 Photo credit: Kim Lightbody

Photographs accompany some, but not all the recipes, as is pretty standard in cookbooks and both sweet and savoury options are given in each chapter.

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 Photo credit: Kim Lightbody

In the ‘Ferment’ section standout sounding recipes for me were:

-labneh (a thick Middle Eastern yoghurt)  and whey

-pumpkin kimchi – because you can never have enough pumpkin recipes

-nukadoko with udon noodles – my daughters are obsessed with udon noodles so any new flavour to accompany them works for me. Nukadoko I learn is a Japanese rice-bran fermenting bed and is one of the more labour-intense procedures

-Kombucha – the fermenting drink made from tea and is hugely popular in Japan.

In the ‘Pickle’ section the following sounded appealing:

-Green chilli and red onion pickle

-spicy pineapple and mango pickle

-pickled oranges

-pickled watermelon rind and easy pickled nuts

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 Photo credit: Kim Lightbody

In all honest ‘drying’ as a technique probably appeals to me less than pickling and fermenting. That said  I regularly make crispy kale crisps and dry roasted pumpkin seeds, but other than that I don’t massively dry foods.  As such I should probably give it more of a go. I love the sound of ‘kimchi or sauerkraut crackers’ and the ‘mango and chilli leather’ or ‘spiced apple and banana leather’, so you never know I may be persuaded to be more exploratory on the drying front.

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My sense is this cook book will appeal to those who get excited to learn new culinary techniques and who are already fairly comfortable in the kitchen. It will also probably appeal to those who like, or who are interested in, foraging. As the authors so aptly put it ‘preserving is more than just a solution to seasonal surplus going to waste. It actually positively transforms fruit and vegetables, bringing out new flavours and textures’.

The preserved lemons recipe caught my eye. I often use them in my cooking  – check out one of my favourite recipes that includes them, so it made sense for me to make a batch.

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It was very straightforward and took minutes to prepare, after I had properly sterilised my jar – 30 mins in an 120 degrees oven (rubber seal removed and boiled in water). Here is what you need to do.

Preserved Lemons

taken from ‘Ferment, Pickle, Dry’ by Simon Poffley and Gaba Smolinska-Poffley

600g (approx 5 lemons) unwaxed lemons

40g sea or rock salt (pure, without iodine or anti-caking agent)

approx 1 litre/34fl oz jar

  1. Simply wash and cut all the lemons into at least 6 slices lengthways.
  2. Place into the sterilised jar (see note above on how to sterilise) along with a layer of salt before adding the next layer of lemons. Use the end of a rolling pin to gently mash each layer to release the juices. As the juice is released it forms the ‘brine’ in which the lemons are preserved.
  3. Once all the lemons slices are packed in they should sit just below the surface of the brine. If there is not enough brine mix a little boiling water with a pinch of salt, let it cool then add to the lemons.
  4. Leave to ferment in a warm place for at least 3-4 weeks.

Once fermented, keep in the fridge for up to 3 months.

In a month’s time I hope to have delicious tasting preserved lemons.