You might think that preserved lemons don’t have an attractive look, the bright yellow color of the unwaxed lemon is gone, the firm texture of the lemon is replaced to a mushy appearance. I agree with you, but what is delightful about making your own preserved lemons is the satisfaction to have a fresh lemony condiment easy to reach and affordable to finish your stew, mash, salad, etc…
In case you’re unsure what preserved lemons are:
Preserved lemons originate from North Africa and the Indian Subcontinent. Lemon trees are abundant and popular there. The lemons are considered as a delicacies. The ‘salt pickling‘ method has been used for centuries to preserve them. Pickling still one of the best method to preserved ingredients for months without adding any preservatives or chemicals. In reality, pickling is an affordable and a practical method of preserving lemons for use long after their season and far away from where they are grown.
Using salt was the best way to preserve food before the refrigeration method. In the UK, we are probably more familiar with pickled vegetables in vinegar, such as beetroot, cabbage and onion, or meat and fish preserved with salt.
Some Europeans recipes date from the 19th show the utilization of preserved lemons already, such as Spanish stews and adopted Moroccan tagines.
HOW TO PRESERVE LEMON
Preserved lemons are really easy to make. All you need is unwaxed lemons, sea salt flakes, bay leaves (optional) and a freshly sterilized jar.
Ingredients: 3 unwaxed lemons, 100g Maldon salt, 2 bay leaves (optional)
First, sterilize your jar by washing it in a dishwasher. If you don’t have a dishwasher, wash it and dry it in a oven turn at 140 degrees Celsius for a couple of minutes. Mind your hands, the jar is going to be hot when you will take it out of the oven!
Then, wash the lemons and dry them. Quarter them. In a mixing bowl, rub them with Maldon salt. I usually use 25g of salt per lemon. The extra salt is used to cover the bottom of the jar and the top before to put the lid back.
Insert the quartered lemons into the jar and cover the lemons with salt and add a bay leaf between each layers.
When the lemons reach the top of the jar, cover with salt and close the lid.
Keep the jar in a dark and turn it upside down every 2 days. Make sure that you can see always salt on the bottom and at the top of jar. If not, add more salt into the jar to keep the pickling process working.
After a couple of months of patience, you can start enjoying your own preserved lemons.
THE USES OF PRESERVED LEMONS
Remove the lemons from their liquid and rinse them of the salt. Use as directed in your dish.
Sliced, chopped, minced, julienne. Whatever you want! The preserved lemons are a key ingredient in Moroccan dishes such as tagines. I highly recommend trying one of these. I will post one of my favourites in the coming weeks as we enter into Autumn.
For other ideas, I think the preserved lemons can be combined really well with olives, artichokes, veal, seafood and chicken.
The pulp and liquid can be used in a Bloody Mary or in other dishes using lemons and salt.
The taste and aroma of preserved lemons can’t be compare to other lemons, the flavour is so much more intense and delicious!
I kept a supermarket jar from some gherkins to do my preserved lemons. They are usually of good quality and they can be sterilized in the oven without breaking!