For years I’d heard about preserved lemons. Once I was gifted with a jar of them. I treasured that jar a bit too much. Thinking I had to save them for only very special occasions, I waited much too long to open the jar. When I did many months later, the lemons had spoiled. All I had left was a nice jar.
A number of years back we were given a large bag of Meyer lemons picked from a friend’s tree in California. After making a couple of batches of Meyer Lemon Curd, I searched online for preserved lemon recipes. Lots of recipes, but none with pictures of the process. And each recipe called for a different procedure and differing amounts of salt. Rather confusing. I didn’t understand how to cut the lemons and I added more than a cup of salt to my quart jar.
After a couple of weeks I opened the jar. The lemons completely overwhelmed me with their extreme saltiness. Though liking the “idea” of having preserved lemons in my fridge, they sat there for a very long time before being tossed.
At Christmas I received Ottolenghi & Tamimi’s Jerusalem. Their very straight-forward recipe for preserving lemons got my attention. Making them went smoothly. An easy to understand recipe with clear instructions and a precise amount of salt. Success at last.
Five weeks later I had a jar of mellow yet intensely flavored preserved lemons. I also now have a wonderful recipe to share with you.
So many possibilities
Over the past month I’ve added my preserved lemons to a Moroccan Winter Vegetable Tajine, blended others into hummus, braised them with artichokes & fennel and tossed a little into a farro salad. Oh my, preserved lemons add the most amazingly rich, deep, complex lemon flavor.
Some people wash preserved lemons before using them. Others say absolutely not. Some use only the peel. Others always use the flesh as well. I’ve tried it both ways. Really it depends upon the dish. When blending the preserved lemon, as in hummus, use the flesh and peel. For thinly slicing or dicing and adding to stir fries or salads, use just the peel.
Regardless, add your preserved lemons sparingly, whether brine, peel, zest or flesh, for an incredible burst of distinctive lemon flavor. As preserved lemons add a bit of salt, go lightly on adding any additional salt to the recipe.
As I continue experimenting with my preserved lemons, look for a few recipes featuring them over the coming weeks and months.
Do you have a favorite way to use preserved lemons? Please share your recipe in the comment box below for all of us to enjoy.
Preserved—another name for fermented
Throughout Morocco, much of the Middle East, Italy and India, preserving lemons began as a means to continue enjoying lemons long past their season. So easy to do: combine whole lemons in a brine of salt and lemon juice. After fermenting the salt-preserved lemons at cool room temperature for a month they’re ready to use.
Upcoming Fermentation Workshop
Join me in a Fermentation Workshop on Saturday, April 26th from 10:30-2:30.
♥ ♥ ♥
Gain a basic understanding of fermentation. Taste and learn to prepare a variety of beverages, appetizers, condiments—including Preserved Lemons—pickles and a dessert.
Take home a jar of White Kimchi, a notebook of recipes and handouts.
Enjoy Hummus with Preserved Lemon & Kimchi Omelets for lunch.
Register now as space is limited.
To reserve your seat at the table
Send me a comment in the “Leave a Reply” box below or email me: Janice@EverydayHealthyEverydayDelicious.com
Inspired and lightly adapted from Ottolenghi & Tamimi’s Jerusalem.
When you can find them, use lower acid, soft skinned, smaller and highly fragrant Meyer lemons. Otherwise, regular Eureka or Lisbon lemons work just fine. The number of lemons to fit in your jar varies with their size and the thickness of their skin. Start with six lemons and add more as you’re able to squeeze them into your jar.
6 – 10 organic lemons, washed and dried
6 – 10 tablespoons sea salt
2 rosemary sprigs, optional
1 Serrano or red Jalapeno chili pepper, optional
Freshly squeezed lemon juice as needed
Extra Virgin olive oil
- Remove any remnants of a stem from the lemons. Beginning with 6 lemons, cut a deep-cross from the top to within ½-inch from the bottom.
- Fill each lemon with ¾-1 tablespoon of salt. (Smaller Meyer lemons hold the lesser amount of salt.) Place the lemons in a clean, glass quart jar.
- Use a wooden spoon, a kraut pounder or your fist to tightly pack the lemons and begin pressing out their juice.
- Add additional lemons filled with salt as room allows. After packing the lemons, I also like to add a glass weight or two to help keep the lemons submerged in the lemon juice.
- Cover the jar with a lid. Store it in a cool spot for a week.
- Remove the lid and press the lemons really tightly together squeezing out as much juice as possible.
- There may be enough juice to more than cover the lemons. If not, add additional fresh lemon juice to do so. Add the optional fresh rosemary sprigs and chili pepper.
- Pour on a thin layer of olive oil. Top with the glass weights if you’re using them.
- Cover the jar with a lid. Store at cool room temperature for four weeks before using the lemons.
- Store preserved lemons in the refrigerator for at least 6 months or more.