Every winter I make a batch of dried Meyer lemons. A batch by my standards is about 15 to 20 pounds and it is a multi-day production. I slice the lemons thinly on my mandolin and fill my dehydrator, it takes about 6-7 hours per batch and it is totally worth the effort. I end up with a large container that gorgeously sits on my counter. Not only does the house smell amazingly citrusy and fresh, the best air-freshener ever, but the thin crispy lemon slices are delicious snacks. Ok, this is how I feel in January! By the summertime, I still have a huge amount of dried lemon slices, I’ve used them in lots of dishes and drinks, and my tree is full again. What to do? What to do? Make Pico Pico, of course.
Pico is a very strange Mexican candy I loved as a child. It comes in small clear pastic tubes and is bright pink. It is a wonderful concoction of sugar, chile, salt, citric acid, artificial color, and who knows what else. I have very vivid memories from my childhood of running around with bright pink teeth and tongue and of pouring packs of it over fruit. I haven’t had it in ages but when memory speaks, the cook must answer. This is my adult version of that ridiculous candy. This is a perfect early summer project and it really comes in handy when the first of the summer fruits start coming in and, well, they really aren’t perfectly perfect yet. A sprinkle of Pico Pico really takes the sting out of spending $$$ on a less than perfect organic piece of fruit! Kinda the Mexican MSG.
- 2 oz. dried Meyer lemons (Since they have been in my kitchen for 6 months, I pop them in the oven for 15 minutes at 250 degrees F to crisp them up a bit.)
- 1 oz dried Cascabel pepper, or any Mexican dried chile
- 1 oz dried Chile de Arbol (this is guaranteed to provide heat)
- 1 cup of granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup of salt
1. Remove stems, veins, and seeds from dried peppers.
2. Use your mortar & pestle, or blender/food processor to produce chile flakes.
3. Finely grind the dried lemon slices.
4. Mix everything together.
5. At this point, tweak the recipe to suit your palate. Make it spicier, saltier, sweeter, or even more lemony. This is how I like it but it really is a base for you to adjust.
Pico Pico works well with all the melons, jicama, mango, citrus, cucumbers, coconuts, pineapple, peaches, and savory fruit salads. Though I must admit that I have never used it on apricots or berries but, who knows, it might be amazing?