Preserved Lemons: A Connector to Another World

My good friends Richard Bonomo and Marla Hazan, whose ancestors are Sephardic Jews from exotic, far-away lands like Turkey, Spain, and Morocco, always have a jar of preserved lemons in their kitchen, for flavoring stews, soups, salads, sauces, marinades and dressings. 

I am working on a 5th edition of Cooking for Dummies with my co-author Bryan Miller, and for a chapter on international cuisines we are exploring and explaining some of the ingredients and techniques used in Mediterranean cooking. Lemons, both fresh and preserved with salt, are as ubiquitous as olive oil and tomatoes throughout the entire Mediterranean world.

I set out this last weekend to preserve some lemons myself and to also borrow some from Richard and Marla so I could add them to the Chicken and Green Olive Tagine I created for Cooking for Dummies V. I don’t know if it’s just me, (I admit to being a bit quirky), but when I make a dish like preserved lemons, the process pleasantly carries me back and connects me to a culture and kitchen practices that are tried and true and centuries old.  I become a little Moroccan, a little Turkish, a little Mediterranean.   

Preserved Lemons

4 medium, thick-skinned lemons

About 6 tablespoons (not iodized) salt

Juice of 4 lemons, or more if needed

1.) Scrub the lemons well. Using a sharp knife slice the lemons into quarters, stopping about ½-inch from one end to leave the quarters attached to the fruit.

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Pack about 1 tablespoon of salt into the center of each cut lemon.

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Place them in a one-quart, wide-mouth mason jar, fitted with a lid, and press them down so they fit snuggly.

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2.) Sprinkle them with one additional tablespoon of salt. Add the lemon juice and press them gently into the juice as much as possible. Cover the jar and let set 3 to 4 days, turning the jar over a couple of times a day, during which time they will soften and release their juice.

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3.) Press them down again and add 1 more tablespoon salt and additional juice, if necessary to completely cover. Close the jar and let set for at least one month, turning the jar over every few days to redistribute the salt and juices. Before using, remove and discard the pulp, then rinse the rind well. A harmless white mold may appear on the fruit; simply rinse it off before cutting up and using the peel. After opening, preserved lemons will keep up to a year, without refrigerating. The pickling juices can be used to make salad dressings or marinades for vegetable salads.

Tip: Cut up the juiced lemon rinds, and if you have a rose garden compost them into the soil around the roots of the plant. Roses love the acidity of lemon peel.

Originally posted 2014-03-24 14:56:03. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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