How to Ferment Oranges

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Preserving citrus fruit through fermentation changes its character, transforming it into an entirely new item in your pantry. Preserving lemons in salt is an old tradition in Moroccan cuisine, from an area where lemons are plentiful and up until the last hundred years or so, refrigeration was nonexistent. Use the same method to preserve oranges.

Method

Step 1

Wash and dry several oranges.

Step 2

Pour 3/4 to 1 cup of kosher salt into a bowl.

Step 3

Place an orange, stem side down, on a cutting board, and cut almost all the way through. Turn the orange 1/4 turn and make another perpendicular cut, leaving the stem intact.

Step 4

Holding the quartered orange over the bowl of salt, press open the cuts. Pack 2 tablespoons of salt into the center of the orange.

Step 5

Place the salt-packed orange into the bottom of a clean, sanitized 1-quart mason jar. Repeat with the remaining oranges until the jar is full.

Step 6

Pour freshly squeezed orange juice over the oranges and seal.

Step 7

Place the jar in a cool, dark place to ferment for 4 weeks, shaking daily for the first week to dissolve the salt.

Serving Suggestions

After fermentation, the orange rinds will soften and take on a silky consistency with a sweet-salty flavor. You may find yourself snacking on them straight out of the jar -- but if you have enough left over, try these suggestions:

  • Dice the orange rinds to add to salad, giving it an intense hit of flavor.
  • Add diced or julienned rinds to caramelized onions. Serve on steak, pork or chicken.
  • Sauté diced rinds with other aromatics to add richness and depth to soup stock. 
  • Puree the entire orange, and use it sparingly as a flavor base for a rich meat glaze or barbecue sauce.

Shelf Life

Kept in their brine in a cool dark place, preserved oranges will last for up to 8 months. Mourad Lahlou, author of the cookbook New Moroccan, recommends topping off the brine of preserved lemons with a layer of olive oil. You can do the same with preserved oranges. This layer of oil, along with the salt, helps protect the fruit from spoiling.

Tip

  • If kept at room temperature in brine and oil, the rinds will continue to soften. If you want to halt this process, remove the oranges from the brine. Slice off the rinds and store them in a jar filled with olive oil in the refrigerator for up to a year.

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