Preserved lemons in salt, are one of the indispensable ingredients of Moroccan cooking. They are simple to prepare, but need to mature in the jar for a couple of months. During this process, the lemon loses the bitter taste and becomes sweet. Preserved lemons can be used in a myriad of recipes. A general rule of thumb is that preserved lemons work well wherever fresh ones do. They are most often used in Moroccan style foods, and are a flavour hit on baked or grilled fish, vegetables, in a gremolata or slivered on a salad, Be creative! Given the cost of preserved lemons and the simple process involved in making your own, it really makes sense to have some in the pantry.
- Course sea salt or cooking salt, about 250g
- Freshly squeezed lemon juice, about 2 lemons
- 2 fresh bay leaves
- Preserving jars
1. To sterilize the preserving jars. Preheat the oven to 120C. Wash the jars in warm soapy water, then rinse well. Put the jars in the oven to completely dry for 10 – 15 minutes.
2. Cut the ends off the lemons, and then cut each one into quarters, leaving the four quarters attached at the base.
3. Stuff as much salt as you can inside the lemons and squeeze them back together again, for every lemon use a good dessertspoon of salt and one for the jar.
4. Put a thin layer of salt in the bottom of the jar.
5. Pack the lemons tightly into the jar, pressing down on them firmly as you go, so their juice spills out and fills the jar. Add the two bay leave as you go. Keep adding lemons until the jar is full.
6. Top up the jar with fresh lemon juice, the lemons must be completely covered. You may need to add some just cooled, boiled water to fill the container. Sprinkle a final couple of tablespoons of salt over the lemons.
7. To keep the lemons submerged, use one half of a squeezed lemon, (the ones you used for fresh juice) jammed into the top of the jar. Remove and discard this when you first use the lemons.
8. Seal the jar, and give it a good shake to distribute the salt. Make sure you label the jar with date of bottling.
Now don’t open it for 40 days, give the jar a gentle shake every few days for the first couple of weeks to move the salt around.
Store at room temperature before opening, but once opened, store in the refrigerator.
To Use the Lemons
When you are ready to use a lemon, rinse off all the salt with water and remove the pulp.
You are only using the skin.
Preserved lemons will keep for at least 6 months once opened, but who hasn’t used them by then !!