I’ve got a thing for lemons, but lately the love affair has taken a new twist. I had an amazing dinner some time last fall at Rye in Louisville, Kentucky. I honestly don’t remember what the meal consisted of, but I do remember that the entree had tiny little slivers of preserved lemon in it. I was amazed to see the lemon rind in the dish and even more amazed at how divine it tasted.
I later found out that preserved lemons are often used in Moroccan or Middle Eastern recipes and I decided to figure out how to make some of these lovely gems myself. It actually is quite easy. All you need is some fresh organic lemons, sea salt and patience.
Prepare a glass jar by boiling both the jar and the lid. Remove it from the boiling water and set on a clean dish towel. Slice the ends off of your lemons. Then make two slits three quarters of the way through each lemon forming four quadrants. Fill each lemon with about a Tablespoon of salt. It will run out of the lemon, so you may want to hold it over your jar or the sink. Pack your salted lemons tightly in the jar and then set them in a cool dry place for a few days.
Now you are ready to squeeze some fresh lemon juice and completely cover your salted lemons. I found that despite how tightly I attempt to pack them, they seem to want to float to the top. However, it is important that they stay completely covered to allow them to preserve properly. I solved this little dilemma by pushing the lemons down with a small juice glass and screwing on the lid.
The next ingredient is patience. Ideally the lemons would cure for about a month (or longer if you like), but we were using our first batch within three weeks and they were just fine. After they have cured, move to the refrigerator and they will last up to a year – though not in my house! Stay tuned a few weeks from now and I’ll share a recipe using our finished product.