Abbasid Citron Preserve

This delicious recipe is found in the pharmacological encyclopedia written by the Baghdadi physician Ibn Jazla (d. 1100). The author suggests taking large citrons (is there any other kind?) from Susa as this was considered home to the best-quality varieties. However, not to fret — citrons from other areas will do just fine!

The citrons can be either peeled or unpeeled before cutting them into finger-sized pieces, which are placed in a pot with water and honey (no fewer than three pounds!). This is cooked over a gentle flame to soften everything up. Then, the citron is cooked several times in honey before it is ready to be stored in a jar with a loosely tied linen cloth containing coarsely ground ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, cloves, and long pepper. Though primarily a medicinal recpe (it strengthens the stomach), it can be eaten just for pleasure, as it is simply too good!

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