Preserved lemons are an ancient ingredient. We associate them with Moroccan cooking, but in the time before refrigeration, lemons were preserved in this way by cultures all around the world (those lucky enough to have lemons to preserve!)
The salt preservation renders the zest and pith of the lemon, soft, delicate (taking away all the bitterness associated with pith) and very lemony! The flesh of the lemon is supple and will nearly dissolve in high temperature and active cooking.
What you need:
5 organic lemons (Meyer lemons are preferable)
1 cup Kosher salt
3 Cardamom pods
a pinch of saffron (if you have it)
2 dried chilli peppers (if you’d like some heat)
Wash and scrub the organic lemons well. Wash and scrub a medium sized jar with a tight-fitting lid. The jar should be big enough to hold the cut lemons snugly.
Cut a thin slice of the top of the lemon off. Cut lemons in half horizontally or slice each lemon from the top to within 1/2 inch of the bottom, almost cutting them into quarters but leaving them attached at one end. It really doesn’t matter how you cut them. Just be sure to cut them to expose the inner flesh, and don’t cut them into too small pieces.
Pour the kosher salt into a medium sized bowl. Press the cut side of the lemon into the salt and cover the cut surfaces with the salt. Don’t be shy with the salt!
Cover the bottom of the jar with more kosher salt.
Fit all the cut lemons in (after covering them in salt), breaking them apart if necessary.
Layer seasonings amongst the lemons.
Press the lemons down to release their juices.
Squeeze additional lemons into the jar until juice covers everything.
Close the jar and let ripen at cool room temperature, shaking the jar every day for 4 weeks. Then store it in the refrigerator.
How to use:
To use, remove a piece of lemon, being sure to reseal the jar and return it to the refrigerator.
The preserved lemon can be added to any recipe calling for lemons (I love it in Scallopini Piccata!) My recipe for Moroccan Chicken with Preserved Lemon is coming soon! Stay tuned!