Be Merry / The Citrus You've Never Heard Of

Limequats, or miniature lemons, have several advantages over their bigger, tarter elders. They go great in chicken or fish dishes or baked in a cake, and make lovely preserves after pickling.

When the markets are flooded with limequats - miniature lemons about the size of kumquats - I know that winter has arrived.

Itty-bitty and oval-shaped, their thin peel glistens a bright, sunny yellow. The limequat has many advantages: Its thin peel is edible, it has almost no bitterness at all and its taste is exquisite; its juice is sour, but with a little sweetness you won't find in ordinary lemon juice. Its fragrance is intoxicating and reminiscent of tangy lime leaves. And the miniature size of the limequat makes it convenient for use in salads and many dishes.

Limequat trees bear their fruit for a fairly lengthy period, meaning the pint-sized produce will be with us until February or March. Now is the time to preserve them, by concocting a batch of thick jam or pickling them simply in salt and lemon juice. Since limequat jam goes with many dishes, you can make several jars and store them in the refrigerator for the rest of the year. A dollop of limequat jam will upgrade chicken and beef dishes, green salads and pound cakes, and will go nicely on top of vanilla ice cream or alongside tart yogurt.

Pickling limequats is easy: Slice the fruit into quarters and remove the pits. Dip each quarter in coarse salt and pack tightly into a sterilized jar. Then, press down hard on the fruit to squeeze the juice into the jar. If there isn’t enough juice to cover the fruit, add fresh-squeezed lemon juice (or limequat juice). Once the limequat quarters are covered with juice, pour a little olive oil on top to isolate them from the air and prevent mold. The taste of the pickled limequat will range between tart, savory and bitter, and it can be eaten as is or added to sandwiches, chicken dishes that incorporate green olives, and also to spicy fish and beef patties.

Chicken in limequat & olives

Ingredients (6-8 servings):

1.5 chickens, cut up, or 14 drumsticks
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 celery stalks, chopped
8 garlic cloves, peeled
15 limequats, quartered and pitted
1/4 cup high-quality green olives
2 tomatoes, cut into large cubes
4 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
2 teaspoons brown sugar
Chili flakes to taste

Preparation:

In a wide flat-bottomed pot, fry the celery in oil for five minutes. Add garlic, limequats and olives, and fry for another five minutes. Add the tomatoes, lemon juice, and spices, and cook, covered, for five minutes. Turn the fire up slightly, add the chicken pieces, stir and put the lid on. Cook 20 minutes. Stir, lower the fire, and cook, covered, for 1 hour. The chicken is at its best the next day.

Limequat jam

Ingredients:

1 kilo limequats, quartered and pitted
2 cups (400 grams) sugar

Preparation:

Place the fruit in a medium pot and cover with water. Add an additional 1 cup of water and bring to a boil. Cook for five minutes, and drain. Return the cooked limequats to the pot, add the sugar, cover and cook on a medium fire until the sugar is dissolved. Take the lid off and simmer gently on a low fire for one hour. Keep refrigerated in a sterilized jar.

Limequat cake with olive oil & yogurt

The refreshing taste and irresistible ease of this cake will make you want to bake it over and over again. When limequats are out of season, you can substitute 6 tablespoons of lemon or kumquat marmalade.

Ingredients:

25 limequats, quartered and pitted
1 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup olive oil
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 cups (280 grams) self-rising flour mixed with a pinch of salt
1 small yogurt container (140 grams)
3 tablespoons slivered almonds

For the syrup glaze:
3 tablespoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons water
3 tablespoons sugar

Preparation:

Grease a loaf pan. Place the limequats in a medium pot and cover with water. Add an additional 1 cup of water and bring to a boil. Cook five minutes and drain. Return the cooked fruit to the pot with 1 cup of water and 1/2 cup sugar, and cook for 40 minutes on a gentle boil. Cool, drain, transfer to a food processor and pulse until you get a coarse paste. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celcius. In a bowl, combine oil, the remaining sugar, and eggs. Add the ground limequats and lemon juice, and mix. Add flour and yogurt alternately, and lightly mix. Pour the batter into the loaf pan, sprinkle slivered almonds on top, and bake for 45 minutes.

In a small pot, cook the syrup ingredients until they come to a boil and the sugar has dissolved, and pour over the cake when it comes out of the oven. Set aside to cool.
 

Limor Laniado Tiroche