Monday, December 28, 2009

When life gives you lemons...

...preserve them. Fresh lemon is one of my favorite cooking and baking ingredients so when I saw mention of preserved lemons in one of my Middle Eastern cookbooks I  knew I needed to try preserving them myself. Preserved lemons are part of the Moroccan culinary tradition, which would technically make them North African rather than Middle Eastern, but their flavor is distinctly Mediterranean. Think lemon olives. After reviewing a few recipes I came up with the recipe below and it worked perfectly.

Preserved Lemons
10 lemons, thin skinned works best
1 1/2 cups rock salt (I use coarse sea salt)
1 litre boiling water
juice of one lemon
8 cardamom pods
a few pieces of cinnamon bark
about 12 peppercorns
2 red chilies
2 bay leaves
olive oil

-Soak the lemons in water for three days, changing the water daily.
- Make deep cuts in the lemons, dividing them into quarters but not separating them completely. You can see how I've cut my lemons (sort of) in the picture above.
-Pack the cut lemons generously with salt and arrange in a glass jar.
-Add the cardamon pods, chilies, and bay leaves. I sliced my red chilies and distributed them around the lemons. These are optional and depending on how large/small and hot your chilies are you may want to use more or less--or none at all. I found other recipes that didn't include cardamom so you could leave that out if you don't have access to it.
-Pour the boiling water, lemon juice, and any extra salt over the prepared lemons Top it off with a thin layer of olive oil. If one liter isn't enough water to cover your lemons, add enough to just cover. If you add much more, add more lemon juice too.
-The lemons will be ready to use after one month.

These are really very easy to make and add a deliciously intense lemon flavor to cooked dishes. I'll soon post our new-favorite-fish recipe which includes preserved lemons, so start a jar of these today. They look very pretty in the kitchen, besides.


Jodi said...

Hi. Hope you don't mind my popping in. Found your blog via Much Ado about Something. The picture of lemons caught my attention. My eldest daughter and I love lemons. Thanks you for sharing this recipe. I will definitely give it a try.


Quotidian Life said...

I'm glad you stopped by~I enjoyed reading your blog and plan to read some more. As a homeschooling mom of an artist son I am always looking for ways to encourage him in his art, especially since there aren't many opportunities for instruction in Jordan. And, I plan to post a couple recipes that use preserved lemons.

Jodi said...

Hi Melissa, thank you for writing. I'm enjoying your blog as well. Looking forward to those recipes. I went to the market today to buy some lemons so I could give the preserving a try. Sadly I couldn't find any thin-skinned ones, maybe because it is winter?
Anyway, very glad to meet you, and if I can be of any help or encouragement to you in your son's artistic endevors, please let me know.