The etrog, or citron, is one of the four species used as part of the Sukkot ceremony. But what’s one to do with a “used” etrog after the holiday?
Mica Talmor-Gott said she uses bushels of them at Ba-Bite, her 18-month-old Middle Eastern restaurant in Oakland. “After the holiday, I get citrons by the case — five, six cases, as many as I can get,” she said. “We preserve them with salt and lemon.” She and her cooks use them in stews, relishes, vinaigrettes and sauces.
“Also, just before we preserve them, some peel [goes into] a big bottle of vodka. And about a month later we get to toy with that,” she added. “The simplest recipe is to shave the skin with a vegetable peeler and drop it into nice vodka for a month.”
Depending on custom and where they were grown, etrogs can be any one of several varieties of yellow citrons, but they must meet ritual requirements and have rabbinic supervision. Yellow citrons, meanwhile, are available seasonally at Bay Area specialty produce stores. Choose organic if available. Yields for jam and condiment depend on size of fruit.
Chabad’s Etrog Schnapps
Makes about 1 quart
Up to 3 etrogs
3 cups vodka, divided
1½ cups superfine sugar
Wash the etrogs well and peel the thick yellow skin. Place the peels in 4-cup container. Add 2 cups of vodka. Store for a minimum of 48 hours in a cool, dark place before tasting. Once the flavoring is to your taste (if fewer etrogs are used, it may take longer), remove the peels from the vodka. Add sugar. Stir until the liquid is clear. Add remaining vodka. Stir until clear. Seal the top. Keep in a cool place for about 6 weeks.
Note: This recipe and the following jam recipe were provided by Chabad.org and are used with permission. For more on using etrogs after the holiday, see www.tinyurl.com/chabadetrogrecipes.
Chabad’s Etrog Jam
Wash the etrog and orange well and cut lengthwise in half and then slice very thinly. Remove seeds. Cover in water and soak overnight. Drain. Place in pot, cover with new water and bring to a boil. Drain, cover with new water again and bring to a boil. Drain and weigh fruit. Combine with an equal amount of sugar. Simmer over a low flame, stirring often, for about 45 minutes or until it begins to congeal and has a jam-like consistency. Store in sterilized, airtight containers in the refrigerator for a few weeks or freeze for longer storage.
Etrog Pickle Condiment
From “Spice & Kosher”
3 Tbs. coconut oil
1 tsp. mustard seeds
1 tsp. fenugreek seeds
2 tsp. powdered, dried red chilies
1 Tbs. sea salt or more to taste
2 fresh green chilies, thinly sliced
1-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped fine
Wash etrogs well and cut into ½-inch pieces. Heat oil in small fry pan. Fry mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds and red chili powder until mustard seeds begin to pop and sizzle. Combine salt, green chilies and ginger in bowl. Stir in fried spices with oil and etrog pieces. Mix well. Taste. Add more salt if needed. Serve or store airtight in refrigerator.
Notes: From “Spice & Kosher: Exotic Cuisine of the Cochin Jews.” Used with permission. This spicy condiment is traditional to the Jews of the Kerala region of southern India; try it with Indian dishes, grilled or roasted meats or fish, or rice.