Tangerines, satsumas, mandarins, clementines… boxes of these little oranges look so beautiful when they arrive in the Turkish supermarkets. We bought a whole box recently, but after eating a handful every day for lunch we were beginning to tire of them. We considered tangerine marmalade, tangerine cheesecake, tangerine-glazed chicken, carrot and tangerine salad, and even tangerine cocktails.
Then I remembered a conversation at the E17 Cook Book Club about how easy it was to make preserved lemons. After flicking through a selection of Middle Eastern cook books for recipes we decided to have a bash at something new:
Moroccan-style spiced preserved tangerines.
200g coarse sea salt
1 cinnamon stick
1 or 2 cardamon pods
1-2cm piece dried ginger
1-2cm piece of dried turmeric
First sterilise a large glass jar and lid on a hot cycle in the dishwasher or washing in hot soapy water and filling for a few minutes with boiling water. Then dry thoroughly.
Wash the tangerines to remove any waxy residue and all those little stickers, then slice the fruit into wedges. Next grind the spices in a spice grinder or pestle and mortar (if you’re feeling strong) into a fine powder.
Now sprinkle a generous layer of salt in the bottom of the jar and a teaspoon of spices. Add a layer of tangerine wedges and press down gently to release the juices. Sprinkle another layer of salt and spices, and then top with another layer of fruit. Don’t worry about the measurements, just keep on layering until the jar is full, making sure you are salting and packing them tightly.
Top up the jar with lemon juice if needed to cover all the fruit. Close the lid tightly and shake the jar. Store the jar somewhere cool and dark for about a month, shaking when you remember, to distribute the salt and spices. Feel free to experiment with the spices, you could try chilli, bay leaves, black peppercorns or coriander seeds. Or you could try other citrus fruits such as lemon slices, regular oranges or grapefruit. They can be stored in the fridge for at least six months.
After a month you will have soft, fragrant tangerines to use in sweet or savoury dishes where you want a citrus hit. You could add them to meaty tagines, blitz them into salad dressings and sauces, or try substituting them in Middle Eastern recipes where spiced, preserved lemons are used. They’ll go into a great marinade for roasting a duck or chicken, or served as an accompaniment to a mature cheese. I can imagine them going well in a roast root-veg rice pilaf rice or couscous with raisins, apricots and toasted nuts… or even into a dark, rich chocolate cake!