Well my curiosity has gotten the better of me. Everywhere I turn lately, I see something about preserved lemons. They look so intriguing, salty and sour. My mouth puckers thinking about them (I do love salt and vinegar chips – a little too much). Yet I imagine these would add a much fresher note to a dish. They are an important component in Moroccan and Indian and middle Eastern cooking. I found some beautiful, tiny organic lemons in our health supermarket and thought they would be perfect to use in preserved lemons, as it is the preserved peel you use, and in my reading I found out that the smaller lemons with a higher ratio of peel to flesh make the best preserved lemons. And also, organic is important, because a lot of the sprays applied to citrus fruits, concentrate themselves in the peels, and I prefer to avoid those toxic cocktails.
So I made up a quart of these beautiful, glistening lemons, and have been impatiently turning the jar and waiting for them to finish doing their magic thing that they need a month to do. I have about a week left to wait, and then I get to try them, so I will let you know how they turn out. I am already rubbing my hands and smacking my lips while reading recipes and thinking of ways I can use them.
There was an article about preserved lemons in the January issue of the Chatelaine magazine (recipes to use them are in the magazine) and check out Hunter Angler Gardener Cook to read more about them.
- enough lemons to fill a quart jar by squishing them in, about 5 to 8, depending on their size, plus more for juice
- kosher salt (or sea salt) – 5 to 8 Tbsp (75 to 120 ml)
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tsp (5ml) black peppercorns
- 3 crushed cardamom pods
- 3 whole cloves
Cut each lemon into quarters, not cutting all the way through to the bottom, leaving about 1/2 inch attached. Pour about 1 Tbsp (15ml) of the salt into the bottom of the jar. Open up each cut lemon and sprinkle as much salt into the center as you can, holding it over the jar to catch the salt that falls. Close the lemon up again, and put it into the jar. Repeat with all the lemons and squish them into the jar so that their juices start to release. As you place them into the jar, layer in the spices.
When the jar is full, squish all the lemons down, sprinkle on another tablespoon or so of salt, and squeeze more fresh lemon juice over the top until they are completely covered in juice. Leave on the counter for about a week, shaking the jar every day so the salt dissolves. Then store the jar in the fridge for another three weeks, and the lemons should be ready to use.
The peels are the good part – they can be finely sliced or chopped and added to flavour a variety of dishes.
I cannot wait to try out this intriguing food.