Confit is a very old method of preserving, the word confit in fact comes from confire which means "to prepare." It most often recognized as confit of goose (confit d'oie) or duck (confit de canard) but the principles are similar no matter what you are preparing. In the case of meat, you cook the meat in its own fat and a hefty amount of salt, and it is stored that way - stored in the fat because as it cools, it solidifies.
For fruit; however, it is sugar that drives out the moisture, not cooking with fat. Thanks to friends of ours, we have an abundance of lemons right now and preserving them was going to be the only way from preventing them all to spoil.
This is an adaptation of Tom Colicchio's Lemon Confit from his book Think Like a Chef.
- Lemons, lots of them - for the amounts below, use a dozen
- 3 Shallots
- 8 cloves Garlic
- 2/3 cup Salt
- 1/3 cup Sugar
- Olive oil, a few cups
Blanch the lemons by dropping them into boiling water for about thirty seconds. This removes any wax they might have been sprayed with, and should kill any mold spores. Wipe clean and slice thin. You could use a mandolin, but we weren't too picky so we used a knife.
Mix the sugar and salt, put into a bowl. Mince the shallots and the garlic fine, combine.
Place a layer of the lemon slices at the bottom of a container, glass is best. (We made this at a friends house so there are pictures of a Tupperware, but we transferred them into a glass jar when we got home).
Following the layer of lemons, sprinkle some of the salt/sugar mixture, and then some of the shallot/garlic mixture. Repeat until you run out: lemons, salt/sugar, shallot/garlic.
Lightly pat down everything, we used a wooden spoon, and add olive oil until everything is covered and not exposed to air. Make sure your container has a lid, put that on too.
Leave at room temperature for three days then place in the refridgerator. They will keep for up to three months.
Use in chicken, fish, or veggie dishes to add zest and color. The acid and garlic supposedly mellow out and meld together with time. Lemon confit and otherwise preserved lemons are common ingredients in Moroccan and Middle Eastern recipes, but I'll bet will make a fantastic condiment to almost anything.