What I have for you today, is a traditional Iranian preserve or “Moraba” that not many people get to experience. It’s a Citron preserve or “Moraba Balang”. So a quick backstory on the Citron is that it looks like a humongous lemon. It sort of tastes like one too, it’s extremely sour/slightly bitter. Which I’m sure has you saying, “GEE CAN’T WAIT TO EAT THIS!” But hear me out, if done properly this is one of the best preserves you can have with some bread and butter.
Moraba in Iranian cuisine is a staple for Iranian breakfasts. It’s always served with some bread and butter. I can always remember it being on our breakfast table. You can rest assured that in my Maman Joon’s fridge at any point in time we’re a zillion glass jars holding some sort of “Moraba.” I first experienced Citron preserve through my Grandfather who would make this for us and bring it with him when he would visit from Iran or California. They don’t traditionally have them on the east coast, so whenever he would bring some, it would be a huge treat. When done right, it should have a sweet and mild lemon flavor to it.
Now this recipe takes a couple days to fully come into fruition. So it requires some patience.
6 Cups of Sugar
First, peel the Citron. I would recommend by peeling it longitudinally so you have several large pieces. Cut these pieces into chunks.
*You can use the actual Citron pieces to make a Citronade. I just squeezed all the juice out of them, strained the seeds/pulp and made quasi-lemonade with them. It’s bitter so you need to add more sugar. I also threw in some strawberries to bring out some more flavors. *
Then soak these pieces in warm water for a day. Drain the water from the Citron pieces, press on the pieces to push more of the juice/water out of them. Drain that.
Now boil them in a pot of water. Once the white part of the peels begins to turn translucent, pour out the water and pull the pieces out and put them in a bowl. Soak these pieces in warm water for few hours. Pour this water out and press again on the peels to press the juice/water out.
This is all done to reduce the bitterness in the Citron. The more you are willing to endure the less bitter it will be.
I would say do this process 2-3 times.
Once the Citron pieces are ready, place them in a pot of water, pour 6 cups of sugar into the pot of water. Stir so the sugar dissolves into the water, bring it to a boil and allow it to cook for 2-3 hours. Once the water/sugar mixture becomes thick and syrupy you can take it off the burner.
Allow your preserve to cool and store it some glass jars.