Are you looking for an inexpensive, tasty gift to give for the upcoming holidays? Make some Preserved Lemons. They are popular in Middle Eastern and North African cuisines. A quick Google search will turn up many wonderful recipes (hint: Chicken Tagine.)
When creating your gift, make sure that you use organic lemons. Usually, I don’t worry about organic citrus fruit, but you are eating the peel. We have a lemon tree, so this was no problem for me. Also, make sure to sterilize the jar. While conducting research, I read some recipe that said because this was in lemon juice, you could skip this step. Why take chances?
If you are giving the lemons as a gift, buy a pretty jar. I used a Ball Twist jar. You can also tie the jar with a pretty ribbon or raffia and include a few recipes the recipient can make using the Preserved Lemons.
Servings: 1 jar of preserved lemons
Hardware: A cookie sheet, foil, a sharp knife, sterilized 28 ounce canning jar, a juicer, a strainer, a wooden spoon and a sharpie
Cooking time: Active time: 10 minutes; Sterilizing time; 10 minutes Fermenting time; 1-3 months
- 5-7 organic Meyer lemons
- ¾ cup kosher salt, maybe more
- Freshly squeezed lemon juice, if necessary
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 4 star anise
- 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
- 1 teaspoon dried rosemary OR thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- Wash and air dry the jar and lid. Preheat the oven to 250˚F. Line the cookie sheet with foil. Make sure you move the shelves of the oven so that the jar will fit into the oven. When the oven is hot place the jar ad lid, open end up, into the oven. Turn the heat down to 225˚F. Make sure that the jar is in the oven for 10 minutes without opening it. This will sterilize the jar. Allow it to cool completely. Wash the lemons.
- Place about ¼ of the salt into the bottom of the jar.
- Pick the 4 best, blemish free fruit. Work with one lemon at a time. Quarter the lemon without cutting all the way through. Pack the inside of each lemon with salt, making sure that all the exposed lemon is covered. Reshape and force the lemon into the jar. Squish it down with the wooden spoon. Sprinkle on some peppercorns, herbs, and a star anise if you are using them. Continue this with the other 4 lemons, squishing as you go.
- Juice the other lemons. Strain the juice of these lemons into the jar. The lemons need to be covered in freshly squeezed lemon juice. Don’t add water or store-bought juice. So, squish and squeeze, using the spoon. Nestle in the cinnamon stick and bay leaf around the fruit(optional.) Make sure that there is a little space at the top of the jar. Write the date you preserved the lemons and ‘ready for use in 30-90 days’ on the lid.
- Place the lemons in a cool, dark place and allow to ferment for 30-90 days. Shake every couple of days. After you open the lemons, there is no need to refrigerate them. Most recipes only require the peel, but you can use the pulp, as well. To use, scrape the pulp into a bowl and rinse the peel.