23 March, 2020
Preserved LemonsComments : 2 Posted in : Condiment on by : Christine
People have been preserving lemons for centuries. They are very common in Middle Eastern cooking but I think they should make a splash in your kitchen. I chop them up and add them where ever I would add regular lemon or lemon juice like risotto, simple pasta dishes, a Bloody Mary or even humble tuna salad. They add a delicious briny, bright flavor that is very unique. You can use both the peel and the brine to liven up almost anything and they last for a year in the fridge. So what are you waiting for? Go make some yellow magic!
(See my tips at the end for more recipe ideas)
- 5 lemons or more for juice if needed (how many you use will depend on their size)
- 1/4 cup kosher or sea salt, more if desired
- Sterile 1-pint mason jar
- Optional spices (see notes)
- Wash the lemons in hot water to remove any wax and dirt and dry thoroughly. I also soak them in a mixture of white vinegar and water to help with this. You will be eating the peel so clean fruit is vital.
- Place 1 tablespoon salt on the bottom of the mason jar.
- Trim the stem end of lemons a little, make sure there is no 'brown' stem left.
- Quarter the lemons lengthwise from the top to within 1/4 - 1/2 inch of the bottom, sprinkle salt on the exposed flesh to cover, then reshape the fruit.
- Pack the lemons into the mason jar pushing them down, adding more salt, and the optional spices between layers. Pressing the lemons down releases their juices, removes air and makes room for the remaining lemons. (If the juice released from the squashed fruit does not cover them, add more freshly squeezed lemon juice. (DO NOT use chemically produced lemon juice or water! They are not acidic enough and this will cause an unhealthy environment for the lemons.)
- Make sure the lemons are well covered with juice before sealing the jar.
- Let the lemons mature for 30 days on the counter or in a cupboard, shaking the jar daily to distribute the salt and juice. Do not open the jar during this time!
- To use: remove a lemon from the jar and cut off the amount you want to use (i.e. 1 quarter or more). Briefly rinse the lemon under running water then remove and discard the pulp, just use a sharp knife and scrape it will come off easily. Preserved lemons will keep up to a year in the fridge The pickling juice can be used a few times over the course of a year just make sure the lemons are always covered with juice, add more if needed.
- If the lemons are too big to fit in the jar just keep squeezing! You want that juice in the jar.
- I recently used some very large organic lemons and had to use a 1 quart jar. This required a couple additional lemons worth of juice to make sure all the lemons were completely covered in juice. I am all for having extra brine though as I can't get enough of the stuff. 🙂
- Spice Options: Only add whole dried spices not fresh! Make a simple version first and then explore. Some options to play with are coriander seeds, cumin seeds, peppercorns (any color), garlic (it is antimicrobial), bay leaf, allspice berries, juniper berries, fennel seeds, or dried chilies. Just a few not too many.
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 3 cloves garlic
- 5 to 6 coriander seeds
- 3 to 4 black peppercorns
- 1 bay leaf
- Chop up and toss into your favorite risotto recipe along with a couple teaspoons of the brine.
- Chop or julienne then toss with some hot pasta, butter and cheese, maybe some chopped fresh or blistered tomatoes and a little chiffonade of basil. Could even add a little of the brine to this.
- Chop and add to tuna, chicken or salmon salad.
- Chop up into a compound butter with some fresh dill or other herbs.
- Glam up tuna casserole!
- Add julienne strips to a chicken, lamb or pork tagine.
- Add the brine to Bloody Mary.
- To sterilize a mason jar for the lemons, place it upside down in a steamer and steam for 10 minutes. Using tongs (wrap the ends in rubber bands for a better grip), remove the hot jar and dry it upside down on a paper towel-lined baking sheet in a warm oven. To sterilize the jar's top, boil it in water for 5 minutes, then remove with tongs. You can also run all the pieces through the sanitize cycle f your dishwasher.