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Preserved Lemons

by VM Brasseur on July 1st, 2008

Preserved Lemons

“Congratulations, you’ve cut yourself on a chef knife while doing your dishes! What are you going to do next?”
“I’m going to make preserved lemons!”

Yeah, maybe not the best idea I’ve ever had…

Like many in California, the Albertellis have prolific lemon trees. This means that as a good friend I will liberate them of some of their lemony burden. It’s my duty. The most recent unburdening was over four pounds of freshly picked citrus. Lovely, but, um, excessive. What’s a single gal gonna do with so many lemons? I don’t like sweet drinks very much so lemonade is out. I don’t much appreciate desserts so no sorbet. Marmalade? No, too much effort for my current schedule and besides I’m still working through the last jar of lemon marmalade that I made. Many other options off the table I hit the [cook]books and decided upon making preserved lemons.

I’ve made these before but the recipe then was different. It required a lot of salting and draining and olive oil. Yes, it was tasty but it wasn’t very practical tonight. The 1991 version of The All New All Purpose Joy of Cooking had just want the doctor ordered. Ingredients? Salt (coarse). Lemons. Brilliant.

The entire lot is prepared according to the recipe (no, I’m not posting it here; I don’t feel like getting a C&D for copyright infringement today). This requires a clean jar, a lot of salt and a lot of lemons (which generate a lot of lemon juice). Do you remember that cut finger? Yeah, well, it doesn’t like salt and lemon juice. Go fig. That’s what I get for being a big doofus.

The entire lot gets composed then gets to sit for at least a month. It doesn’t matter much where it sits. Sunny, shady, whatever. With the acid and salt levels in this thing it’s highly unlikely you’re going to be inviting bacteria to the party whatever the temperature. At the end of the month you just treat them like pickles (which is what they are). Eat ’em straight (not my first choice); add them to salads, marinades, etc.; use them as a condiment for any ol’ thing.

The picture above is the final result of tonight’s effort. There’s a high level of potential deliciousness sitting in that jar there and the entire process took me no more than twenty minutes. Brilliant!. Alas, it only used up eight lemons all total. I have, um…ten or more left. Le sigh. Back to the drawing board.

From → Food

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