Monday, April 22, 2013

Easy Lemon Confit

Lemons halfway through the first boil.

Lemon confit was not my first choice for this weekend's project. I really wanted to make rhubarb compote. But after the excitement of finding rhubarb at the farmers market last week, it was not to be found at any of the three markets we checked.

Meyer lemons

Instead, Lisa suggested this confit, something she has made a few times in the past. I had never tasted it, but one forkful was enough to convince me. It is tangy, slightly sweet, spicy and fragrant. Lisa liked to mix with with chopped fresh celery or parsley and serve it with grilled asparagus. She also suggests spooning it into an avocado or eating it with roast chicken. I imagine that it would also be great with grilled fish or as the base of a pasta sauce. Obviously, it can also serve as a salt-free substitute for preserved lemons. 

Lime thyme

Pickled Lemon Confit  

Note: This recipe involves very little active work, but the process of boiling and then cooling the lemons takes time. As always, we made a few changes to the printed recipe: We substituted meyer lemons for Eureka, lime thyme for regular thyme, as I had it growing in my garden and also dried red peppers from a CSA box, for the jalapenos. We also made a second batch minus the dried peppers to share with chile averse family.

from The Elements of Taste by Gray Kunz and Peter Kaminsky

  • 10 lemons, halved and seeded (We used meyer lemons as they were available in a friend's yard)
  • 1 teaspoon allspice berries
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 1 jalapeno chiles (We substituted 2 dried red peppers)
  • 10 sprigs thyme (We used lime thyme from my garden)
  • 1 tablespoon white peppercorns
  • 3 cups water
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/4 cup sugar 
Combine all of the ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat and cool. Repeat, boiling and cooling 4 or 5 times, until the lemons are almost translucent. We cooled the lemons for about 40 minutes each time. Place the lemons in a glass jar and cover with the confit liquid. Store in the refrigerator until needed.

Ready to jar.
My half of our two batches.



  1. So, do you just use the liquid and discard the lemons when it's all gone?

  2. Actually, you use the solids! After the cooking process, the lemons are very soft, the texture is much like a chutney or jam.
    For example, while we were prepping this batch, Lisa served an earlier batch mixed with chopped celery.

  3. Unlike preserved lemons, in which you scrape off the pith and need to rinse them slightly before use, these lemons can be chopped whole including what remains of the pith. The liquid, which becomes a thick paste after the repeated cook/cool cycles, can be used too. The only thing I remove are the large spices so you don't bite into whole allspice berries or peppercorns.