Preserving lemons is one of those projects that makes me so, so happy. It’s really easy to do, and you end up with bright, salty, acidic lemon that you can add as a secret ingredient to your dishes for months to come.
But what dishes, exactly? Preserved lemons are a slam dunk in Moroccan food. You can’t go wrong with a classic chicken tagine, especially. But they’re also a great addition to salad dressings, roasted vegetables, as a relish on fish or lamb chops, and in pasta or grain salads. Or make these delicious seared lamb chops with lemon & tahini sauce.
Just a note when cooking with preserved lemons: they’re pretty salty! So season your dish accordingly by holding back a bit of the salt you would normally add.
One year ago: sweet & spicy and easy to make, honey glazed salmon is the perfect weeknight meal.
- 3 small organic lemons, preferably Meyer
- kosher salt
- pint-sized mason jar and new lid, sterilized (leave in boiling water for a few minutes or place on a cookie sheet in a 225 degree F oven for 10 minutes)
- optional: whole peppercorns, dried bay leaves
- may also need juice from an additional 1-2 lemons
- Scrub the lemons thoroughly. You end up eating the peel, so you want to get rid of any icky stuff that may have accumulated during that lemon's time on the truck, in the distribution center, in the supermarket, etc...
- Now you're going to ALMOST cut the lemon into quarters. That means cutting through the stem end but leaving about an inch of the lemon intact at the other end.
- Stuff as much salt into the lemons as you can.
- Toss a few peppercorns and a bay leaf into the bottom of your mason jar. Add 1 lemon. Squish the lemon down with a spoon, trying to get out as much juice as you can. Cover with salt. Layer more peppercorns and a bay leaf, add another lemon. Squish, cover with salt. Repeat for the final lemon. Put the lid on.
- Leave the jar at room temperature for the next three days. Once a day, press down on the lemons to release their juices. Put the lid back on and turn the jar upside down to distribute the salt and juice. If the lemons aren't covered with lemon juice by the end of the 3 days, squeeze the juice from another lemon into the jar to help them out a little bit. Relocate them to the refrigerator. Continue to turn the jar upside down once a day for the next week.
- Your lemons will be ready in 2-3 weeks. They will keep for up to 6 months in the refrigerator.
- These little guys are intense! You don't need much to make a big impact on a dish. To use them, pull a lemon out and cut off the desired amount. Scrape the pulp from the inside and reserve the rind. Rinse to remove excess salt (they're already salty enough!). Chop and add to your dish.
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