Sunday, April 12, 2009

Preserved Lemons

Last weekend I had made a dinner for the in-laws of chicken Schnitzel. We enjoy copious amounts of fresh squeezed lemon juice over our schnitzel and at the end of the meal there still remained a large bowl of cut up lemons still unused. We put the leftover lemons in a zip-lock and they have been sitting in my fridge all week. I kept thinking I would make some lemon-aide with them but never got around to that. I decided I needed to find something else to do with them and a quick Internet search found the solution.... Preserved Lemons!

Many Moroccan and Middle Eastern recipes call for using preserved lemons, lemons that have been pickled in salt and their own juices. They are very easy to make, though it takes at least three weeks before the lemons are ready to use. Here is the recipe I found:

How to Make Preserved Lemons


8-10 lemons, scrubbed very clean
1/2 cup kosher salt, more if needed
Extra fresh squeezed lemon juice, if needed
Sterilized quart canning jar


1 Place 2 Tbsp of salt in the bottom of a sterilized jar.

2 One by one, prepare the lemons in the following way. Cut off any protruding stems from the lemons, and cut 1/4 inch off the tip of each lemon. Cut the lemons as if you were going to cut them in half lengthwise, starting from the tip, but do not cut all the way. Keep the lemon attached at the base. Make another cut in a similar manner, so now the lemon is quartered, but again, attached at the base.

3 Pry the lemons open and generously sprinkle salt all over the insides and outsides of the lemons.

4 Pack the lemons in the jar, squishing them down so that juice is extracted and the lemon juice rises to the top of the jar. Fill up the jar with lemons, make sure the top is covered with lemon juice. Add more fresh squeezed lemon juice if necessary. Top with a couple tablespoons of salt.

5 Seal the jar and let sit at room temperature for a couple days. Turn the jar upside down occasionally. Put in refrigerator and let sit, again turning upside down occasionally, for at least 3 weeks, until lemon rinds soften.

6 To use, remove a lemon from the jar and rinse thoroughly in water to remove salt. Discard seeds before using. Discard the pulp before using, if desired.

7 Store in refrigerator for up to 12 months.

Since my lemons were already cut into small sections I improvised and just salted each piece before packing into the jar. They are so pretty to look at in the jar. I am looking forward to using them and have already started collecting recipes that utilize them.

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