Back in January, around the time of my birthday, I was given a small bag of homegrown Eureka lemons. I was pretty excited considering I love anything homegrown, especially if it's given to me. I set about thinking up a way in which I wanted to preserve them. I briefly thought about a small batch of marmalade, but this particular type of lemon isn't well suited for that, and it would have taken a huge amount of effort for only a very small return. It was when I spied a much forgotten Moroccan cookbook on my shelf that I had a "Eureka" moment. (please forgive the corny pun, or don't and laugh hysterically like I just did...)
Preserved lemons are a very popular ingredient in Moroccan cooking, adding a bright, salty tang to tagines and other dishes. I don't typically whip up tagines in my kitchen, but I figured I would use these lemons as an excuse to try something new and experiment a bit. Here's a few ways I've come up with to try them:
+ pureed into a salad dressing (maybe to use with some winter greens, quinoa, and toasted almonds)
+ chopped and added to a bit of fried rice
+ chopped and tossed with some roasted veggies for a bright, salty punch of flavor
+ combined with plain yogurt and herbs for an all purpose dip
I'll most likely be experimenting with mine soon as they are almost ready to use, so I'll try to document everything here and share a recipe or two. Happy preserving!
notes: I used Eureka lemons, but most lemons will work. I would not suggest using meyer lemons as they have a much thinner skin and you won't have much left to work with. Also, it's better to use un-sprayed or organic lemons as you will be consuming the skin.
1 pound of lemons (about 4 or 5)
1/3 cup kosher salt
fresh lemon juice, if needed
a clean quart jar
Thoroughly wash and scrub the lemons. Slice each lemon into eight wedges. Fill the jar about a quarter of the way with the lemon wedges, then sprinkle in about a quarter of the salt. Repeat this process, pressing down on the lemons as you go with the handle of a wooden spoon. Make sure to use the entire amount of kosher salt (1/3 cup). Once the jar is filled, place the lid on it, mark it with the date, and set it aside for 3 to 4 days in a dark, cool place.
After a few days, check to see how much juice the lemons have released. It should be close to covering all of the lemons. If not, press them down with the handle of a wooden spoon and add enough fresh lemon juice to completely cover the lemons. Replace the lid and allow the lemons to cure for 3 to 4 weeks in a cool, dark place.
After 3 to 4 weeks, your lemons are ready to use and can be kept at room temperature in the jar for up to 6 months. To use, remove a lemon wedge, discard the flesh, and use the peel as you desire. Or, you can remove the seeds and puree the lemons as described here.
makes 1 quart jar