Last year just after Christmas, …….gosh, has it really been almost three months? I was looking at my tangine recipe and after doing a little research on preserved lemons I decided to make my own instead of searching for them in the grocery stores. I discovered they are super easy to make.
Preserved lemons are among the heart of Moroccan cooking and they are one of the most important ingredients used in Moroccan cuisine. After the lemons have been in your refrigerator for a month or so they are ready to use.
The salt has tenderized the lemon rind and the fruit has a sort of jam-like consistency with a very intense flavor. Lemons can also be preserved in oil, a brine or pickled but preserving them in salt is, by far, the most popular method.
Preserved lemons are not just for Moroccan dishes such as tangines but can be added to stews, pastas, grain salads, salad dressings and salads. Even if your tangine or stew doesn’t call for preserved lemons specifically, get creative and do some recipe tweaking.
It is fun to add a little preserved lemon rind to a recipe and discover the unique flavor the tang of the lemon adds to a dish. I have chopped the preserved rind into small pieces and included them in my salads which really jazzes up the flavor. Salad dressings, especially a vinaigrette is especially nice if you scrape the fruit from the rind and whizz it in the blender with your ingredients.
This recipe for preserved lemons has been adapted from Claudia Roden’s Arabesque cookbook.
- 4-6 lemons (depending on the size of the jar you choose)
- 4-6 tablespoons sea salt
- Juice of 4 additional lemons
- Wash and scrub the lemons. The classic Moroccan way is to cut each lemon in quarters but not right through, so that the pieces are still attached to the stem end. Then, stuff each lemon with a tablespoon of salt and squeeze it closed. Put them in a sterilized preserving jar, pressing them down so that they are squashed together, and close the jar.
- Leave the jar sitting on the counter top for 3 to 4 days, turning them upside down/right-side up at least once every day. After 3-4 days open the jar and press the lemons down firmly, the lemons will be softened somewhat and will give up some of their juices. Pour the juice of the additional 4 lemons over the top and smash down again so that the lemons are completely covered with juice.
- Close the jar and leave in the refrigerator for at least a month, the longer they are left to ferment the better flavor will be.
- Before using, scoop out and discard the pulp, rinse the lemon peel under cold water to get rid of the salt. If you will be using the pulp you may need to adjust the seasoning in the dish to allow for the saltiness of the pulp.
- I used my meat mallet to press the lemons down firmly.
- Preserved lemons will keep at least a year in the refrigerator.