Fusion cooking has brought many delicious treasures from around the world into common use in non traditional ways. One example are preserved lemons. They hail from North African cuisine and are probably most well know for their use in Moroccan tagines. Preserved in salt and lemon juice and usually made from Meyer lemons they can be easily made at home.
The biggest issue is the “what do I do now?” question that happens after they are ready. It really is more a question of cellular memory. We all know where the cinnamon or raisins are and reach for them without much thinking. But that jar in the back of the fridge hasn’t yet been taken out often enough to reach that kind of automatic level.
Preserved lemons can be used in stews, on chicken, over popcorn, in salad dressings, salsa and dips; in everything from grain salads to cocktails and desserts, anywhere that lemon and salt are already at home. Don’t get me started on pasta. Just build the thought muscle and ideas will come.
water, boiled and cooled, enough to top up the jars being used.
Take a moment before you begin and simply appreciate. Appreciate access to non native foods, the culinary traditions of other countries, the freedom to shop and the transportation system that brings these tasty treasure to your community. Take another moment, along with a deep breath to appreciate time and space to play and create in your kitchen, to share with friends and family. With your last slow deep breath bring your focus into the present moment and begin.
Organic lemons would be my first choice for this recipe as lemons skins get a lot of chemical “love”. If that is not a possibility then be sure to scrub the lemons well in warm water and either vinegar (20% solution, 20 minutes) or added salt (10% solution, 20 minutes). Rinse and allow to dry.
The lemons should be naturally at room temperature now. Roll them back and forth a few times to break the cells holding the juice. Top and bottom the lemon before slicing 4/5ths of the way down in opposite directions. This will give four quarters still connected at one end. Keep any juice that has seeped out and pour into the jars.
With the open end facing down, place the lemon into the jars and squish down, releasing the juice. Add more salt and repeat with a second and then third lemon, until the jar is full of lemons and about half full of juice. There should be salt inside, salt between each lemon. Finish with more salt on top.
Twist on the lid (I put a square of parchment paper between the metal and the fruit). Allow the jars sit somewhere that you can see them, at room temperature. For three days, give them turn the upside down and give them a shake a couple of times a day. On day four the jars go into the fridge. In three weeks you are done and your delicious preserved lemons are ready!
Keep the preserved lemons in the refrigerator. To use them in, discard the pulp (keeping the peel only). Yes, there is some debate so if you come across a recipe that says use the entire lemon, I will leave that up to you. Get the salt out by washing the peel thoroughly before chopping into appropriate sizes.
Preserved Lemons from My Kitchen Wand