Whenever I walk down the street here in Berkeley, I have this incredible urge to pick things. Something is always in bloom year round and my neighbors have rose and hydrangea bushes and gorgeous fruit trees. The good stuff often overhangs their fences, taunting me. I also have some neighbors who let their very adorable cats roam around outside. One of these days, I’m going to snap and just come home with flowers tucked in my hair, lemons and avocados crammed in my pockets, and three cats in my arms.
Thankfully for everyone, I do have some self control (and my husband has cat allergies). And, now I can stock my house with preserved lemons so I’m not tempted to take a few next time I walk around the block.
Preserved lemons are just lemons in a brine. The recipe is super simple and they’ll last a while in your fridge. I’ve been dicing up the whole lemon and adding it to couscous salad. I’ve seen recipes floating around for adding it to chicken or lamb tagines, usually with green olives. I may need to try something like that out soon.
To make these, I followed the instructions at Simply Recipes and David Lebovitz’s blog. I didn’t add any seasoning to my first batch, though other online recipes suggest adding peppercorns, cinnamon sticks, bay leaves, coriander, or cloves.
A bunch of lemons
Pour a layer of salt in the bottom of a clean jar so the bottom is completely covered.
Slice a few lemons in quarters, leaving one end in tact (see picture above). Pour salt in the slices, about a tablespoon per lemon.
Place the lemons in the jar, dumping a bit more salt on top of each one before adding the next. Press them down a bit, cramming as many as possible. I got four lemons into a pint jar.
Squeeze juice out of more lemons and pour into the jar so the lemons are covered. Screw on the top and set aside. For the next couple days, press the lemons down and add more lemon juice if needed. Let the lemons sit for three to four weeks until rinds soften.
The lemons will keep in the fridge for about six months. You can rinse them off before using to get rid of some of the salt, but they shouldn’t taste too salty – more briny, like an olive.