Preserved Lemons

Preserved LemonsLemon Scented
Okay, I officially overate last week. (It was the pie that put me over the top.) I know I am not alone, and am sure there are equal numbers of people who will agree with me…if I see any more turkey I will lose my mind.

Besides the copious turkey leftovers, my mother-in-law sent me home with a huge bag of beautiful Meyer lemons from her tree. The smell of lemon filled the car the whole ride. Heaven.

The sheer size of my lemon haul means I have been thinking about different ways to use them up. You can only drink so much tea and lemon after all…

This Lemon Chicken is a family favorite, as is lemon curd—a request from the kids.

By far, my favorite way to use a lot of lemons though is preserving them. Preserved lemons have a terrific, bright flavor and can be used in so many different ways. I use them mostly in Moroccan food, but they are also great in salad dressings or bruschetta. I have even seen a recipe for Preserved Lemon Ice Cream, though I’m a bit hesitant.

I have looked all over the internet for preserved lemon recipes, and this method remains my favorite. I was taught it by Kitty Morse while taking her Moroccan Cooking class.

FYI, these also make a great gift for the Holidays…

Preserved Lemons
Adapted from Cooking At The Kasbah by Kitty Morse
Yields 1 quart

Don’t be afraid to pack the lemons in tight. They will soften and you may even need to add a few more to the jar as the lemons initially soften.

In theory, there should be enough juice coming out of the lemons as you stuff them in the jar to cover all of the lemons. I rarely have this happen. So I always use some of the extra lemons for their juice.

12 or more unblemished, organically grown lemons, preferably Meyers, scrubbed
Kosher salt
Fresh lemon juice as needed

Pat the lemons dry. Cut a thin, dime-sized circle from both ends of each lemon. Set a lemon on one end and make a vertical cut three quarters of the way through the fruit, so that the two halves remain attached at the base. Do not cut the lemon in half. Turn the lemon upside down and make a second vertical cut at a 90-degree angle to the first, again three-quarters of the way through the fruit.

Fill each cut with as much salt as it will hold.

Place the lemon carefully in the bottom of a sterilized, wide-mouthed, quart glass jar.

Proceed in this manner with the remaining lemons, compressing them in the jar until no space is left and the lemon juice rises to the top. Seal and set aside on the kitchen counter.

More lemons may be added in the following days as the lemon rinds begin to soften. Make sure the lemons are covered with juice at all times, adding fresh lemon juice if necessary.

The lemons are ready to use when the rinds are tender (about 4 to 6 weeks). Rinse them lightly and discard the seeds before using. Refrigerate after opening. Preserved lemons will keep for up to 6 months in the refrigerator.

To prevent mold from forming, make certain the lemons are always completely covered with lemon juice (even once they are being stored in the refrigerator). If you do see mold, remove it with a clean utensil, and submerge the lemon.

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