A friend asked for the preserved lemon recipe I use, so I figured it’s as good a reason as any to finish fixing up this site. Gotta put the recipe somewhere, after all.
This recipe makes as many or as few preserved lemons as you want. I recommend making 2-3 small-ish jars at a time unless you use a lot of preserved lemon in your cooking. I always repurpose food jars for these, so this one will be in an old salsa jar, that one’s jar used to hold mayonnaise, etc.
- As many lemons as you wish to preserve, plus a few extra
- Kosher salt
- Cutting board and sharp kitchen knife
- A non-reactive bowl (ceramic, stainless steel, etc.) large enough to hold 2-4 cups of liquid
- Clean glass jars with well-fitting lids
Basically the steps are: slice, squeeze, salt, pack, top-up.
- If you got your lemons from the grocery store, give them a scrubbing in the sink. Nothing intense, just scrub them a bit to remove some of the wax that’s applied to a lot of fruit.
- Prepare your jars if you haven’t yet. They should be clean inside and out, as should their lids. Either sanitise them (using something like Star-San) or fill them with boiling water for a few minutes.
- Slice each lemon three times in the long direction (from flower to stem end), stopping about 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch from the end. Do not cut all the way through the end. You want to have six lemon slices all connected at the end.
- Hold the sliced lemon over the bowl and give it a good squeeze to collect the juice. No need to squeeze it dry.
- Open up the lemon slices like flower petals. Cover the inside of the lemon and the edges of the slices with a decent (but not ridiculous) layer of kosher salt.
- Close those lemon “petals” up again, then pack the lemon into a jar.
- Repeat for all the lemons. As you pack them into the jars together, try to minimise the amount of open/air space is left between the lemons. Try to pack them tightly. Also, leave some headspace at the top by keeping the level of the lemons below the lip of the jar.
- When you’ve done as many jar’s worth as you want, pour the reserved lemon juice into each jar, filling to the bottom of the reserved head space. As you’re doing this, you may need to tilt or tap the jars to remove trapped air bubbles. It can also help to slide a butter knife in there to free the bubbles that are extra trapped. The goal is to leave as little air as possible. If you run out of reserved lemon juice, juice some of those extra lemons you picked up.
- Close tightly. Leave them on your counter or a shelf for a few months (3-6 would be fine). They’re ready to use when the lemon is soft all the way through.
- I keep mine in the fridge for long-term storage, but they’d probably be fine in a dark, cool cabinet. I’d keep them in a fridge after opening and starting to use them, though.