Preserved Lemons

Adapted from How to Cook Everything

I recently made a batch of preserved lemons on a drab winter afternoon when my kids were in need of an indoor project. This is an excellent home science project for the little ones. Have them examine the lemons beforehand, let them do the shaking each day, then finally allow them to taste the end product and note how the salt brine changed the lemon skin. Like magic! Preserved lemons often appear in Moroccan and other North African dishes. It takes just a short time to prepare them and once the two week wait is over, they keep for months in the fridge. This recipe makes enough to keep one jar in the fridge and give a second one away as a hostess gift.

  • 3 pounds lemons (2 pounds to cut up and the other pound for juicing)
  • 1/2 cup kosher salt
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 2 whole black peppercorns
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Fill two medium-sized canning jars with boiling water. Submerge the lids in boiling water as well. Set aside.
  • Cut about 2 pounds of the lemons into quarters lengthwise. Drain the canning jars, then place a layer of kosher salt along the bottom of each. Layer the lemon wedges along the bottom of the jar, then add the clove, peppercorn and bay leaf. Top with another layer of salt. Continue adding lemon wedges and salt to the jars until you’ve filled both jars to the top. Using the remaining lemons, squeeze the juice into the jars so that the lemons and salt are completely immersed in lemon juice. Remove the lids from the hot water, then close each jar and shake vigorously.
  • Leave the jars out on the counter. Shake them once each day for a week. Place them in the fridge and allow them to rest in the refrigerator for another week. When you finally open them, they should smell fragrant and sweet. Note the change in the texture of the skin.
  • To use the preserved lemons, blanch them for 10 seconds in boiling, unsalted water to remove just a bit of the salt. Chop them and add to salads, vegetable dishes, pilafs and any other dish that could use a little “brightening.”
  • Quick Tips
  • 1. If  you have a quart-sized jar and would rather have just one jar to shake and store, use that instead of two.
  • 2. If you have any cuts or open wounds on your hands whatsoever, either save this project for another day, wear kitchen gloves or allow someone else to do the slicing and juicing of the lemons. And the handling of the salt, for that matter! Ouch. Of course, I obtained this knowledge in the same way I learn all my hard-won kitchen lessons.

Yield: 1 quart

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