One of the most versatile and delicious foods you can make at home is preserved lemons. They are an essential flavor in much Middle Eastern cooking from Morocco to South India. Here, they add intense lemony flavor to just about anything from Bloody Mary’s to cocktail sauce or simple grilled seafood.
Our bounty of local Meyer Lemons is ideal for preserving because they have such great perfume. The process both tames the sour notes and concentrates the citrus tones making for a truly unique flavor.
Preserving lemons is very simple if you follow a couple of steps very carefully.
Mason jar (sterilized)
4 or 5 Meyer lemons (any lemon will work)
kosher salt or sea salt
First you will need to sterilize a mason jar as if canning any other ingredient. Wash the lemons and trim the nub off both ends. Cut the lemons into quarters but only ¾ of the way through, leaving them attached at the bottom end. Spread open slightly and pack the inside with a spoonful of salt. Squeeze slightly, shaping the lemon back together. Put a heaping spoonful of salt in the bottom of the Mason jar, add the lemon cut side down and press down firmly into the bottom of the jar. Sprinkle a good spoonful of salt on top of the lemon. Take the next lemon, cut it and pack with salt as with the first one and press it down firmly on top of the one already in the jar. Add salt and repeat the process with 4 or 5 lemons per jar, enough to fill it ¾ full. If necessary, finish by squeezing enough lemon juice to make sure it covers the lemons about 2/3 of the way up. Seal with the lid and keep at room temperature for 30 days, turning and gently shaking the jar every day to keep everything moist and mixed.
Preserved lemons will keep almost forever, though in time they will become very soft. Just be careful to always remove them with a clean fork or spoon so you don’t introduce any contaminants. Once opened, it’s a good idea to keep that jar in the refrigerator. They can be pureed to add to stews and sauces though most often only the skin is used, either diced very fine or smashed with a fork. They are good in almost anything.