Preserved Lemons

A must in Moroccan and Arabic cooking is preserved lemons. I first happened upon a bucket of these bright yellow babies in my Asian supermarket in Toulouse ( ) and just had to have them. Didn't know what to do with them, but just had to have them. Needless to say, 2 years later, they weren't quite what they should and could have been.

Since then I have made a point of finding recipes to use them in and am quite enamored with them. On top of this, we have a great source of organic unsprayed lemons in Portugal and I was desperate to find ways to use this abundant supply of fresh produce. So I looked for and found various recipes for preserving lemons. It's really easy and you could bottle even just one if you wanted to, though I would recommend a couple more than that.

Seeing as you are eating the whole fan-dangle, do try to find organic non-waxed, non-abused lemons to preserve. Wash and dry and continue as follows.

For a regular 800ml sized jar:

about 4-8 lemons
about ½ cup of sea salt

1. Make a cut about ½ way down the lemon, then turn the lemon over, rotate 90° and make another slit halfway again. It's actually easier to look at the photo below than to try and figure out what I just wrote!

How to cut lemons

2. Put about a tablespoon of salt in each slit – really shove it in. Put the lemon into a sterilized jar and continue with more lemons. Use about 4-6.
3. Squeeze the juice of the other 2 lemons over the ones in the jar. If it still needs more liquid, add a bit of water. (NOTE: A friend of ours uses only water to fill the jars and no lemon juice and she says she has good results. The jars in the photo below have been filled with water not juice – thanks for the photos Anja!) A lot of recipes use no water at all only lemon juice.

Lemons with salt in cuts

The lemons need to be submerged in liquid at all times as they will otherwise go moldy. I had no problems with this as we really squeezed them in, filled them to the brim with mostly lemon juice and a bit of water and then sealed tightly. But if you have problems keeping them submerged, then stick a couple of toothpicks in the last one before screwing the lid on. The lid will press against the toothpicks and keep the lemon below the surface.

Lemons with tooth picks

4. The lemons are ready in 3-4 weeks and will keep for a very long time. Okay, so slightly more specifically, at least 6 months to a year. After that they go very very soft. I keep the jars in our cool pantry whilst unopened and in the fridge after opening.
5. You can add whole spices to the jars when make them. Add things like coriander seeds, cinnamon sticks, star anise, cloves, bay leaves, peppercorns, mustard seeds, etc.
6. I use the pulp and rind when I use them, but a lot of recipes say to remove the pulp and either use it in another recipe or discard it. Personally I don't see the point of doing this. The pulp is salty of course, so I just reduce the amount of salt in the dish and use the whole lot. Also, a little goes a long way, so don't go crazy at first – half a lemon is a lot of lemon unless you really really like lemon!

Now that you have the lemons I will start posting some recipes as to how to use them.

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I never knew this technique

I never knew this technique about lemon. I will try it at home. But the thing is this might not be good for health.

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