Posts Tagged 'savings'

Preserved Lemons

I think I’ve mentioned a couple times now how many lemons I harvested.  That, and people keep giving me grocery bags of citrus.  Right now, I have two bags of grapefruit, a bag of pommelos, a bag of oranges, a bag of lemons, and a bag of tangelos sitting on my counter.  I hate to see food (especially produce) go to waste.  So when people offer it up, I always bring it home.  The tricky part is making sure it all gets used before it goes bad.

When I first looked in to a way of making citrus last longer, I came across Preserved Lemons.  I had never heard of them.  I guess they are huge in Morocco and some other middle eastern/north African dishes.  Preserved Lemons used one of the oldest preservation methods around.  Salt.


Preserved Lemons:

  • Lemons
  • Salt
  • Mason jars

Select your lemons.  I find the smaller ones are great for this.  Wash the exterior.

Cut each lemon down from the top, but not all the way through.  Then make a 2nd perpendicular cut, again, not all the way through.

Hold the lemon, slice side up, in the palm of your hand.  Use your fingers to open the cuts slightly.  then pour Kosher salt into the lemon.  Use your hand to hold the salt int he cuts of the lemon.  This is a good time to find all the cuts, nicks, hangnails, and splinters that are in your hand.

Then jam, and I mean JAM the lemons into your mason jar.  Really push em down in there. The juice will start to come out, as you push, and as the salt draws it out.  That’s good.  Keep slicing, salting, and pushing your lemons into the jar.  You need the lemon juice to cover the top of the last lemon you can possibly squeeze in there.  You may need to pour some juice off, or add some. (I had to pour some off).  Just pack those little guys in there until you can.  See the first pic up top?  That’s what it should look like.

Close the jar, and put it in a cool place.  I used one of my cupboards.  Flip it on its lid after the first day.  Then back right side up.  Continue flipping every day for a week.  After one week, move it to the fridge.  Continue to flip for another week.  Now you can start using them.

These guys are salt magnets.  I couldn’t imagine eating them the way they are.  From what I’ve learned, you cut the flesh out of the lemon and discard it.  These are not for sweet dessert recipes that call for zest.  Only savory dishes.

Using a sharp knife, slice off as much of the pith as you can.  This leaves you a very flavorful rind.  I swear the preserved zest is even lemonnier than regular zest.  Rinse off the rind to get rid of any residual salt.

These lemons should last a lifetime.  It’s a great way to extend some of your citrus harvest, to have that great lemony flavor in the off-season without buying imported, pesticide laden, lemons.  There are a ton of recipes out there that call for preserved lemons.  Give the old google machine a try and taste some new flavors a try.

Bountiful Baskets

Last time I mention Bountiful Baskets.  But I thought they deserved their own thread.

Bountiful Baskets is a produce co-op that was started in Arizona. It has since expanded to Arizona, Idaho, Utah, and Washington. If you live in these states and aren’t participating, you’re missing out.

Actual Basket Contents From Site In Phoenix

Here’s how I describe the process.

Bountiful Baskets is a food co-op.  That means, all volunteer drive, no employees, and thus, no overhead.  Tanya and Sally (who run it) collect money from people, and then go buy produce.  That produce is split among those that contributed.  Doesn’t sound that amazing yet, does it?

Well, if I go to the store, carrots cost me $3 a bag.  But, if 10,000 people each contribute $16, that’s $160,000.  You show up to a produce distributor with $160,000 in your pocket, and you get a lot more buying power at lower prices.  So that’s basically it.  You pay $16.50 every other Tuesday (or every Tuesday if you’re really dedicated) and Sally and Tanya combine everyone’s money, and buy truck loads of produce.  On Saturday morning, those trucks head to per-determined meeting places, which are usually parks.  Volunteers arrive, and start to sort and distribute the produce.  From there it’s basic math.  If they t 160 bananas, and there are 20 people at the site, each basket gets 8 bananas.  If there are 300 apples, and 20 people, each basket gets 15 apples.  And so on.  Any remainders (meant both in math, and literally) go split between the volunteers.  Seems fair since they donated an hour to save me some money.

Actual basket contents from BB

Each basket is a bout a 50/50 mix of fruits and veggies (+/- 5%).  An average basket has about $35-50 worth of produce.  Yes, I’ve received up to $50 worth of produce by paying $16.50 for it.  Each basket has a fine assortment of average, and frequently used fruits and veggies (apples, oranges, pears, bananas, tomatoes, lettuce, cucumbers, mushrooms, celery, etc).  Each week there is what I like to call the surprise, or curve ball item.  Kumquats, Persimmon, Guava, Blackberries, Pineapple, Brussels Sprouts.  One thing that makes you go, Hmmm…Never had this before.  Might have to look up a recipe.

Here’s the caveat.  You have no choice in what you get.  Sally and Tanya do all the shopping.  You shop up with a laundry basket, cooler, or re-usable grocery bags and haul it off.  There’s no choice, and no selection.  The draw back to that is, I hate celery.  I get celery a lot.  Other’s don’t care for certain items, that they get.  My mom’s complaint is that she had way to much lettuce after a month of baskets.  The bonus to that system is this.  You have no choice, and therefor need to make no decision.  It’s an easy flat rate system.  Also, you’ll try new things.  Would you ever buy Persimmon?  Probably not.  But did you know they make an amazing bread?  They do.  And we wouldn’t know without Bountiful Baskets.

Here’s another advantage.  We ALWAYS have fruits and veggies in the house.  The kids snack on apples and bananas, instead of Cheese-Its.  I always have a side item to serve with dinner, be it green beans, asparagus, potatoes, etc.  We are eating healthier, every day.  We have fresh fruit for breakfast and lunch, and veggies with dinner.

You could not go to the grocer and buy all this for $15.

For you home caners, this is the best deal going.  Not only do you have a steady supply of fresh produce coming in, but they also offer things in bulk.  It’s not every week…but they’ll offer cases of tomatoes, apples, peaches, cucumbers, citrus, and other stuff.  2 weeks ago I got 50# of cucumbers for an additional $17.50.  This week, I’m getting 20# of tomatoes for $9.50.  It’s an easy and convenient way to get produce for canning and preserving.

On a side note, they also sell bread, cookies, granola, and honey, although I haven’t bought that, as we bake our own bread and cookies.  They also have organic baskets every other week, but they cost more, and that’s not my thing (yet).
Long story short.  Pool your money, get better prices.  Get a ton of random, good quality, produce for $16.50.  Buy when you want, no obligation to continue.  We get it every 2 weeks.  My mom gets one a month.  Others I know get 2 baskets a week (with 7 kids at home).  It’s all up to you.  Their website “opens” on Tuesdays.  You can order between noon Tuesday, and 10pm Wednesday.  The produce is distributed Saturday morning between 0700-0900, depending on your site.  Please try it, at least once.  I think you’ll be hooked.


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