How to Make Preserved Lemons
I’m seeing more and more recipes these days calling for preserved lemons. Perhaps it’s the growing influence of Moroccan and Middle Eastern cuisine on our diet. Should we called it the “Ottolenghi effect”? What’s tricky is that store-bought preserved lemons aren’t always easy to come by. Plus, the ones I’ve tried haven’t been particularly worthwhile. Lucky for all of us, they’re a snap to do it at home. If you’re wondering how to make them, all you need is a jar, a few lemons, salt, and month’s worth of patience. Plus, it’s darn satisfying to open the fridge and see a pretty jar of citrus preserving before your very eyes.
Preserve Any Variety of Lemon
Below you’ll find the recipe. You’ll note it calls for Meyer lemons, those gorgeously scented, thin skinned, sweet beauties that are in markets right now. Not to worry if you can’t get ahold of Meyers, since any variety of lemon will do just fine. And any size will work, too. You just need to adjust the size of your jar.
How to Use Preserved Lemons
It takes about a month for the lemons and salt to work their magic and transform from salty lemons to preserved ones. When that time arrives, the question of what to do with them comes to mind. Really, they work well in many of the same savory dish where you would add lemons, lemon zest, capers or olives. I have an entire post on using preserved lemons, which may spark some ideas. My favorite use? Tuna salad. A tablespoon or two of preserved lemon in this Superfood Tuna is an umami bomb. I also like this pretty Chicken with Preserved Lemon over on Cooking Light.
For those of you who already know how to make preserved lemons, how do you use use them in your own cooking?
Easy Preserved Lemons
- 4 to 5 Meyer lemons, scrubbed
- 5 to 6 tablespoons kosher salt
- 1 clean pint jar with a lid (glass with a rubber seal or silicone is preferable to metal lids)
Spoon 1 tablespoon of salt into the jar.
Cut 3 lemons into quarters, leaving the very bottom of each one attached (so that if you open it, it fans out like a flower and is still connected at the bottom).
Spoon 1 tablespoon salt into the center of the first lemon, close it, and put it into the jar. Continue with the 2nd and 3rd lemons, smashing them down firmly into the jar to make room for more, if possible. If some room remains, add another half or whole lemon, using 1/2 to a full tablespoon of salt accordingly. Fit as many lemons as you can as long as there is at least 1/2 inch of room at the top.
Add another tablespoon of salt to the top of the lemons.
Cut 1 or 2 lemons in half and squeeze enough juice so that the lemons are immersed in liquid.
Put on the lid and store in a cool place. Turn the jar over every day for 4 days, then store in the fridge.
After a month, your preserved lemons will be ready to use.
Rinse well with water before using. It is typically the peel, not the flesh of the lemon, that is used.