Preserved Lemons

My first encounter with preserved lemons, a staple of Moroccan cooking, was vicarious but so powerful that I craved them, and the entire cuisine, for years before I dared try my hand at making them or using them as an ingredient. What triggered this was purchasing Paula Wolfert’s wonderful book, Couscous and other Good Food from Morocco, in a second hand shop so many years ago that my copy is a first edition dating from 1973! There was something so interesting and informative about the writing, both the narrative text and the recipes, that I read the book cover to cover in one sitting.

From time to time since then, I’ve made a small jar of preserved lemons, which tends to last for about six months unless I have a large crowd to feed. I preserve them in 12-ounce jelly jars because the portions seem right for us, although a larger jar would work (and from research appears more typical). While I normally make them from regular lemons, I happened to have Meyer lemons this month, so it will be interesting to see how they turn out.

The basic procedure is to quarter lemons lengthwise, add them to the jar until filled, and add salt (I use coarse Kosher salt) and lemon juice to top them off. The jar is then sealed (I use a canning jar and lid) and turned upside down, to redistribute the salt and liquid, every day for about 4 weeks for regular lemons and I guess less for Meyer lemons. The curing will transform the lemons into a syrupy mix. When curing process is complete, store the jarred lemons in the refrigerator.

For a 12-ounce jar, I used 2 organic regular lemons, cut in quarters lengthwise, 2 tbsp and 1 tsp coarse salt, and the juice of 1-2 lemons. With Meyer lemons, the jar took 3 ½ quartered fruits, 2 tbsp and 1 tsp coarse salt, and juice from 2 ½ lemons.  I left the seeds in since they contain pectin that helps create the syrupy consistency.

Categories: Citrus fruit, LemonsTags: ,

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