Preserved Lemons

As far as I know, there are no lemon groves in New England, so this is a post unrelated to my garden or any farm in my area. We love making preserved lemons because they are lovely to look at in the jars, and delicious in winter chicken dishes with olives, or other Middle Eastern/Moroccan dishes (more to come on those recipes when it gets cooler!)

We make preserved lemons when we can get lots of lemons for little money at the grocery store. And, since there is no hot water bath necessary to "can" the lemons (the lemon and salt brine do the preserving), these are super easy to make. I'd add them to the gift-list for the holidays!

This recipe is adapted from the book Preserved, by Nick Sandler and Johnny Acton, which we received as a gift. It's a beautiful book, filled with gorgeous photos, delicious recipes from curing your own meats to jamming and making aspics. This was the first recipe we decided to follow, and we were shocked to discover that the recipe was not clear at all. We both had to read it multiple times, until I finally suggested we make stuff up on our own! Here's a clear version of this recipe, adapted by David and myself.

Recipe: Preserved Lemons
adapted from Preserved
  • 3 1-pint canning jars and lids
  • 10 lemons (preferably un-waxed, but if you can't find them, get waxed and give them a good, soapy scrub and rinse)
  • kosher salt (get a big box, this part doesn't get measured)
  • And spices for each jar (so, multiply the following by 3!)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 10 peppercorns
  • 1/8 tsp ground coriander
  • 4 cloves

Cut 5 of the lemons into wedges, 8 wedges per lemon. Juice the remaining 5 lemons, reserve the juice, and toss the rinds.

Firmly pack lemon wedges in layers into sterilized glass jars, adding spices as you go (no need for perfection here). At each layer add 2 teaspoons of salt and spread evenly. Repeat layering, until jar is packed with lemons, leaving approximately an inch of head space at the top of the jar. Divide up the lemon juice and add to jars. Seal the jars with a tight-fitting lid, and store the lemons in a cool, dry place for about a month before using. You might want to turn the jars upside down for a week, and then switch again, to make sure all the salt, juices and spices combine. These lemons should last, unopened, for a year. Once opened, should be stored in the refrigerator.

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