Tuesday, November 29, 2016

All About Preserved Lemons

Earlier this year I received a lovely batch of lemons from Limoniera Ranch. They were so perfect I knew I wanted to preserve them. Preserved lemons are a wonderful ingredient to use in traditional Moroccan cuisine, but if you don’t cook Moroccan food very often, have no fear! They are more versatile than you might think.

Making preserved lemons is more about technique than recipe. I use the general instructions from Paula Wolfert. The biggest difference is that I slice the lemons into quarters, I find them easier to squish into a Mason jar. Wolfert leaves them attached at the bottom. But beyond that, her recipe for packing them in a jar with salt and some lemon juice to cover them is pretty much perfect. But do use nice lemons, without blemishes and on the small side if possible. You can add black peppercorns or bay leaves, but I go simple just using lemons, lemon juice and kosher salt.

Now when it comes to using them of course you can add to tagines, the most classic way to use them, but as I mentioned, they are very versatile. Think of ways you’d use fresh lemons—in sauces, in salads, in baked goods, with roasted meats or vegetables— preserved lemons have a different flavor and texture, but can be used in all the same kinds of recipes. Once you start using them you will find even more ideas than I have listed.

Preserved Lemons

Ingredients

Organic lemons, well scrubbed
Kosher salt
Lemon juice

Instructions

The amount of the ingredients really depends upon the size jar you use. Do sterilize the jar by putting it in a pot of boiling water before adding the washed lemons which you have cut into 4 wedges. Pack the lemons into the jar and add about a tablespoon of salt per lemon. Really press the lemons into the jar so it’s jam packed. You’ll want to squeeze a few lemons and add enough juice to cover the lemons in the jar.

Allow the lemons to rest in a warm place for at least 30 days, turning the jar upside down every few days to distribute the salt and juice. If necessary, open the jar and add more lemon juice to keep the lemons covered. Store in the refrigerator. Rinse the lemons thoroughly before using in recipes.

Note: Traditional recipes use only the rind, but I find the flesh and juice can also be useful in non-traditional recipes.

Ways to use preserved lemons:

* Add the juice to salad dressings instead of vinegar and salt

* Dice and add to savory baked goods like biscuits or scones

* Use them to flavor grains like quinoa, rice or bulgur

* Add them to ceviche

* Swap them for fresh lemons in gremolata

* Make a bed of slices and roast fish on top

* Use the juice in mayonnaise or aioli

* Add them to vegetable salads or Greek salads

* Include them in tuna salads

* Place thin slices on top of flatbreads or pizza

* Puree them with roasted beets and tahini to make a dip

* Add them to marinated olives or peppers

* Chop and stuff them inside a chicken before roasting

* Finely diced in salsas

Disclaimer: My thanks to Limoniera for providing the lemons, I was not monetarily compensated for this or any other post.