One of my favorite flavors is lemon. I love a good squeeze of tart lemon juice on broiled fish or in a thermos of cold ice water; I adore the sweet lemony flavor of lemon wafer cookies and lemon meringue pie; and now, I have fallen in love with the subtle complex flavor of preserved lemons.
There are a wide variety of uses for these gems. You can cut up very thin slivers of preserved lemon and add them to sautéed vegetables like green beans or carrots. You can mash them into butter with some fresh herbs and spread the mixture on top of grilled fish. A little could be added to a batch of tapenade, and a perfect use is to add finely-chopped pieces to some homemade lemon ice cream. Preserved lemons elevate the flavors of everything to which they are added.
Easy to make, all you need are lemons, salt and a clean, large glass jar with a tight-fitting lid. Combine them and give them some time and you have preserved lemons that can be kept in the refrigerator for up to six months.
8 to 10 organic lemons
½ cup plus Kosher or Coarse Sea Salt
- Scrub the lemons with a vegetable brush and dry them completely.
- Cut off the little rounded bit at the stem end if there's a hard little piece of the stem attached.
- From the other end, make a large cut by slicing lengthwise downward, stopping about 1-inch from the bottom, then making another downward slice, so you've incised the lemon with an X shape.
- Pack salt into the lemon where you made the incisions. Don't be skimpy with the salt: use about 1 tablespoon per lemon.
- Put the salt filled lemons in a clean, large glass jar with a tight fitting lid.
- Add a few coriander seeds, a bay leaf, a dried chili, and a cinnamon stick if you want.
- Press the lemons very firmly in the jar to get the juices flowing. Cover and let stand overnight.
- The next day do the same, pressing the lemons down, encouraging them to release more juice as they start to soften. Repeat for 2-3 days until the lemons are completely covered with liquid. If your lemons aren't too juicy, add more freshly-squeezed lemon juice until they are submerged.
- After 1 month, when the preserved lemons are soft, they're ready to use. Store the lemons in the refrigerator where they'll keep for 6 months. Rinse before using to remove the excess salt.
- To use: Remove the lemons from the liquid and rinse. Split in half and scrape out the pulp. Slice the lemon peels into thin strips or cut into small dices. You may wish to press the pulp through a sieve to obtain the tasty juice, which can be used for flavoring as well, then discard the innards. Note: Sometimes you may see a sort of lacy, white substance clinging to preserved lemons in the jar; it is perfectly harmless, but should be rinsed off for aesthetic reasons just before they are used.