Preserved Lemon for Time and (Almost) All Eternity

by Kelly on December 5, 2013   

Finally my little Meyer lemon tree is putting out. It’s a shrimpy thing — only about 5 feet tall — but there must be 25 lemons on it right now. And Meyers are such a sweet, mild lemon, almost with a hint of orange to them.

Riper on the sunny side, but well on the way

Riper on the sunny side, but well on the way

I’ve always been attracted to those recipes, Middle Eastern and Moroccan ones in particular, that have a tart-sweet-salt combination. Often the sweet is honey, the salt is olives, and the tart is…preserved lemon! That is not something one can find easily, and yet is so easy to make if you’re willing to delay gratification. So here is how to make preserved lemon, and stay tuned for recipes that include it.

Preserved Lemon | makes 6 lemons

6 whole lemons, scrubbed clean and stems removed, plus extra lemons for juice
8 tablespoons kosher or sea salt (no binders or fillers, check the label)

Sterilize a 34 ounce preserving jar with a good-fitting lid (a run through the dishwasher will sterilize it or a rinse with boiling water of both the jar and the lid). Put one tablespoon of salt in the bottom of the clean jar.

Slice the lemons almost in half, from the tip to the stem end, without cutting all the way through. Cut again to the stem for quarters.

They will be a little awkward to handle but try to keep the stem end intact

They will be a little awkward to handle but try to keep the stem end intact

Pack a tablespoon of salt into the center, rubbing any excess onto the outside of the lemon. Put into the jar and repeat with the other 5 lemons and salt, pressing hard on the top to jam the lemons into the jar.

Catch the excess salt and rub it onto the lemon before putting it in the jar

Catch the excess salt and rub it onto the lemon before putting it in the jar

Smash the lemons into the jar until they completely fill the jar along with their juice

Smash the lemons into the jar until they completely fill the jar along with their juice

Add extra juice to cover the lemons if needed and sprinkle another tablespoon of salt on top.

I'll give this one more good squish before I close the jar

I’ll give this one more good squish before I close the jar

Leave them at room temperature for 3 or 4 days, turning the jar upside down for periods of time. Move to the refrigerator or a cool, dark spot for another month at least.

To use, rinse the lemon to remove the salt (if a little mold shows on top just rinse it off as well) and discard the pulp.

Store in the refrigerator for up to 6 months.

Beautiful to look at!

Beautiful to look at!

Almost all eternity — just make them again!

Kelly McCune © 2013

 

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