What food blog would be complete without a preserved lemon recipe? This may be one of the most ubiquitous recipes on the internet, but there’s good reason for that: it’s easy to make, tastes comfortingly familiar yet exotic, and it’s one of those ingredients that justifiably adds a “fancy” touch to any dish it winds up in. Who wants to eat boring, old fava beans? But fava beans with preserved lemon? I’ll order two. So I felt compelled to include it here.
I’ve been making this recipe for years now. It’s been gleaned from a number websites and cookbooks, so I make no clams of originality. But it’s a simple and effective method that has never failed me. When you’re using the finished preserved lemons, use the whole thing rind and flesh, and be sure to give them a rinse otherwise things can get too salty real fast. Also, if you’re looking for more of a mellow flavor, steep them in boiling water for a minute or so before using. This really brings out a perfume-like quality.
I like to use preserved lemons in the obvious choices: tagines, couscous, etc. But they go great with a ton of Mediterranean and many American dishes. I also really enjoy them in Southeast Asian cuisine. They’re an interesting substitute for lemongrass when you can’t find it. I’m working on some recipes that I’ll post soon.
Makes 1 pint
-4-8 meyer lemons, depending on size
1. Sterilize a 1-pint mason jar.
2. Wash and trim the ends off of 3 to 5 of the lemons, depending on how many appear to fit in the jar. Then slice them lengthwise in quarters, stopping short of cutting all the way through so the quarters remain attached.
3. Place 1 tbsp salt at the bottom of the jar. Open each quartered lemon and place 1 tsp salt inside. Fold them back together and press firmly into the jar, releasing the juice. Add additional lemon juice to cover and top with another 1 tsp salt.
4. Seal jar loosely so that it can vent off any pressure that builds up. Leave at room temperature for about a week or so. You’re watching for the rind to lose its whiteness and look a bit transparent. Some recipes call for shaking or tipping the jar everyday, but I find that once the salt is dissolved, usually after a few good shakes the first day, this is unnecessary. After a week, place lemons in the fridge where they’ll keep for at least 6 months.