Secret Ingredient: Homemade Preserved Lemons
Preserved lemons. Yummm. If you like citrusy flavors, you will be loving these. I love lemon anything: flavors, fragrances, aromatherapy. Yep, citrus turns me on. So, fittingly, I’m quite exciting to share this little recipe for homemade preserved lemons. It seems that they originate from Morocco where they are called for in many traditional recipes. The French call them citrons confits. What are they? Essentially, preserved lemons are lemons that are pickled in salt and in their own juice.
Once you’ve tried them, you will find that you want to use them everywhere. I use them when sautéing vegetables, in dressings and marinades, sauces, tapenades and many raw food recipes and in a multitude of casseroles……and in any Moroccan tagine and couscous dish if you are that exotic. Just remember NOT to add salt to any recipe that is using preserved lemons. You won’t need it.
Here what you’ll need:
- About 12 lemons or enough to fill your jar + juice of lemons to cover. Meyer lemons are preferred because of their thinner skin
- Sea salt
- A sterile glass jar with a tight closing lid
Here’s what you do:
- Wash the lemons well, because with preserved lemons, you eat the softened rind
- Cut the tips off each lemon. It’s recommended in every recipe and I’m guessing that’s only because you wouldn’t want to eat that gnarly part
- Cut the lemon(s) as if you were going to cut it in half lengthwise, but only go to about ¾ of the way through, so you are NOT cutting all the way
- Turn the lemon upside down, turn it half way and make another lengthwise cut, about ¾ of the way through, still NOT cutting all the way through. The lemon is still “whole” but now in four sections
- Pry the lemon(s) open and generously and fill with as much sea salt as the lemon will hold
- Pack the lemons in the jar, compressing them down so that there is no space left in the jar and the extracted lemon juice rises to the top of the jar. Make sure the top is covered with lemon juice. You will want to add more fresh squeezed lemon juice if necessary. This will help prevent mold from forming
- Seal the jar and let sit at room temperature… for 4 to 6 weeks until the rinds soften and become tender. During the first week, check on your jar every couple of days to top off with lemon juice. Should mold start forming, do not panic. Simply remove the mold with a clean spoon and retop with lemon juice.
When ready, you can refrigerate your precious lemony gems. They’ll keep for a good six months. To use, just remove the seeds, you may rinse them if you prefer less salt, and chose to use the whole, just the rind or the flesh of the lemon. I started make these about a year ago and I’m on my third batch. Loooooove ‘em.
If you find that this process is too involved for you (I won’t judge…) try the Bella Cucina preserved lemons (pictured right above). After sampling a multitude of other goodies in their Atlanta store, I’m quite certain that these must be exceptional.