Preserved lemons in fridge, oil congeals...?

Discussion in 'Food & Cooking' started by french fries, Jul 19, 2010.

  1. french fries

    french fries

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    I made some preserved lemons, then placed them in the fridge, and the olive oil congealed. Is that a problem for storing them for several months if the oil is congealed? Or is it fine as long as I take them out a few hours before using?

    Weather is insanely hot lately here and the only place that doesn't go up to 100F during the day is the fridge.
     
  2. kyheirloomer

    kyheirloomer

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    Could you explain that a little more, French Fries? The only preserved lemons I'm familiar with are the North African kind, which are salt-cured. There is no oil involved.
     
  3. french fries

    french fries

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    Yes, those are the ones, North African ones. Interesting that olive oil isn't normally used, the recipe I followed required pouring hot olive oil over the salt-cured-drained lemons after 48 hours, then closing the jar. I found another recipe which was also calling for pouring hot olive oil, although only after a 12 hour cure.

    Now that you mentioned it, I did a quick search and found only recipes that don't involve olive oil (except for the two recipes I looked at obviously)! How interesting...

    Here's the recipe I followed: http://translate.google.com/transla...n.com/citrons-confits.htm&sl=fr&tl=en&act=url

    PS: further googling shows you are right and olive oil isn't typically used for preserving lemons. I wonder why Bertrand Simon would use olive oil for his.

    Still, now what do I do? Do you think it's fine even if the oil congeals? Or will it affect the quality / taste of the final product?
     
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2010
  4. kyheirloomer

    kyheirloomer

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    I think it will be fine. When I keep anchovies in the fridge (which is always after opening) the olive oil does the same thing. And I've had some jars of olives do it too.

    A few minutes at room temperature, though, and everything is back to normal.
     
  5. left4bread

    left4bread

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    The olive oil congeals because it is refrigerated.  Something like under 55 degrees F.  The viscosity changes, harmlessly.

    Is it safe?

    Not a clue.  Botulism springs to mind.  Anaerobic conditions freak me out.  I'm a bit of a "Chicken Little" though.
     
  6. phatch

    phatch Moderator Staff Member

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    India has a lemon pickle/preserved lemon as well.
     
  7. kyheirloomer

    kyheirloomer

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    Phil, does the Indian version use oil?
     
  8. phatch

    phatch Moderator Staff Member

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    The recipe I found the quickest had some vegetable oil.This is from The Frugal Gourmet, Our Immigrant Ancestors.

    1/2 cup salad oil

    3 tablespoons salt

    1 teaspoon turmeric

    1 teaspoon ground fenugreek

    1 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds

    1 teapoon red pepper flakes

    1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds

    1/4 teaspoon asafoetida (optional)

    6 cloves garlic, sliced

    2 oz fresh ginger sliced

    18 fresh lemons

    Heat a frying pan and add everything except the lemons.Cook for about 45 seconds but don't brown the garlic. Set aside to cool

    Clean the lemons as necessary. Quarter them leaving the rind on and place them in a large bowl. Mix with the cooled oil and seasonings. Pack into a wide mouthed gallon jar and leave on the counter. Shake the jar and roll to remix about every 3 days.Open the jar now and then to allow gas to escape. Allow to cure for2 to  3 weeks, then refrigerate where they will keep for a few months.
     
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2010
  9. french fries

    french fries

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    Alright, great, thanks for the help everybody!
     
  10. dc sunshine

    dc sunshine

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    It should keep well, as you said, get it back to room temp and oil will clear.  I've done roasted capsicums, roasted tomatoes like that.  Chilled down, covered in oil, sealed into sterilised jar.  No bad side effects at all. They didn't last long as we like 'em too much.
     
  11. french fries

    french fries

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    Sounds like a great "problem" to have. /img/vbsmilies/smilies/smile.gif Thanks for sharing ideas of preserved roasted tomatoes.... sounds delicious!
     
  12. phatch

    phatch Moderator Staff Member

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    Anything sealed in oil needs to be refrigerated and eaten quickly for food safety
     
  13. french fries

    french fries

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    All the recipes I read state that you should keep those oil-preserves outside the fridge. Some say cold room, others say warm room. They also recommend waiting about 6 weeks before eating the preserves, more if possible.

    I've had some sundried tomatoes in olive oil in an open jar in my fridge for months, I still eat some of them once in a while. Same with my kalamata olives... never thought of it as a health issue?

    /img/vbsmilies/smilies/confused.gif
     
  14. left4bread

    left4bread

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    I hate to sound like an idiot,...

    edit: ...so I'll just delete this post.  I swear to god it makes sense in my head then I go and type it and it sounds like an incomprehensibly bad "Japanese to English" translation.  Garrrrrr!!!!!!!  Someone learn me how to talk good!
     
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2010
  15. phatch

    phatch Moderator Staff Member

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    Oil locks out oxygen which creates the environment where botulism is produced.

    Enough salt will stop it, but for moist produce in oil, peppers, garlic, tomatoes and such it's best left to the commercial producers.
     
  16. french fries

    french fries

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    That scares me. Any way to test for botulism in 2 months when I open my cans of preserved lemons? Is that something you can see, smell or taste in any way?
     
  17. kyheirloomer

    kyheirloomer

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    Savvy home canners work with one over-riding credo, French Fries: When it doubt, throw it out!

    Boutulism toxin is colorless, odorless, and tasteless. There is just no practical way it can be tested for at home.

    But, if you do a little research on actual cases, it's also not the bug-a-boo USDA has built it up to be. In the past, even CDC has taken exception to USDA's paranoia in this regard.

    I'm working from memory, so don't quote these numbers. But they're probably close. And easy enough to check on.

    Boutulism cases are remarkably stable, year to year, averaging something like a total of 23 cases with a food borne causation. Of those 23 cases, about half come from home-preserved foodstuffs.

    So, let's call it 12 cases. They result from 3-4 events. That is, if four people get sick from eating something----say, for instance, a mother and three kids sharing a jar of something--- that's four cases but only one event. And, as it turns out, most of those events deal with food that was held or stored improperly after opening. So what we're looking at is 3 or 4 specific jars of "bad" food.

    Now lay that against the multi-thousands of home-canned and home-preserved foods that are produced every year. I don't know a single insurance company that would even keep actuarial tables on that sort of "risk."

    I don't mean to trivialize boutulism. It's a horrible thing to suffer. But look at the risk-odds vs the to-do USDA makes over it, and you have to wonder why they focus so heavily on that one potential problem. And, if it's so risky, how come USDA doesn't try to get honey banned as food? Honey is loaded with boutulism bacteria, which is why it is not recommended for infants. 

    At base, as with any home preserves, you have to weigh the risk/benefits and decide for yourself. I make no recommendations either way, other than the credo stated above.
     
  18. french fries

    french fries

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    Darn. Good organic olive oil, good organic lemons... throw it all away? /img/vbsmilies/smilies/frown.gif

    Thanks for all the thoughts and details. I wish you'd made the decision for me, but I understand why you can't.
     
  19. phatch

    phatch Moderator Staff Member

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    pH is also very important which is why low acid foods need special canning.

    With your lemons, salt and acidity and refrigeration I think you['ll be OK.
     
  20. french fries

    french fries

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    Good to hear - thanks Phatch.