Preserved Lemons

 

 

Preserved lemons are a staple in my kitchen. I use the preserved rind to add flavour to roast chicken, herb butters, salad dressings, and Middle Eastern recipes like lemon chicken tagine or a simple baked fish. Personally, I tend to prefer using the preserved rind rather than the lemon pulp as it has a fragrant taste that isn’t as acidic as the pulp. A jar of preserved lemons also makes great gifts when you have an abundance of lemons.

 

INGREDIENTS

  • 6-8 medium lemons, washed (depends on size of jar)

  • Sea salt or Kosher salt (1 tbsp per small lemon or 2 tbsp for medium to large lemons)

  • 2 bay leaves (per jar)

  • 4-6 whole allspice (per jar)

  • Olive oil

  • 1 Sterilized preserving jar (850ml)

 

METHOD

  1. Wash the jar out thoroughly, then rinse. Place on a baking tray (remove any rubber seals), and place into the oven on 110C for 15 minutes. Once sterilized remove and allow to cool down.

  2. Slice the lemons except for 1. For the remaining whole lemon, slice in quartered wedges and remove any pips.

  3. Add 2 tbsp of salt to the bottom of the jar, followed by adding a couple of whole allspice. Squeeze the first lemon wedge juice into the jar and add it to the jar with the skin facing to the edge of the glass. Follow this process until the jar is half-filled; sprinkle over 2 more tbsp of salt. Use the back of a spoon to push them down so they are tightly packed, and no air bubbles are trapped.

  4. Tuck in 2 bay leaves down the inside of the jar along with a couple more whole all spices.

  5. With the whole lemon, slice it halfway down the middle like you would with the wedges but stopping before you slice all the way through. Slice it crossways halfway down so you have a cross pattern. Squeeze out half of the juices of the lemons into the jar and place it in the middle of the jar with the cut side facing upwards followed by 2 tbsp of salt sprinkled over the top.

  6. Keep filling the jar with the lemon wedges squeezed, followed by a tbsp of salt and a good push down with the back of the spoon. Fill until 3 – 4cm from the top of the jar.

  7. Give the lemons another good push down to make sure they are all tucked in tightly and are covered with lemon juice. If they are not, add some extra lemon juice.  Wipe around the top and inside of the jar with a clean paper towel to remove any bits of lemon pulp.

  8. I like to finish off with an extra seal of olive oil to ensure no bacteria gets into the lemons while they are preserving. Add a 5mm-1cm layer of olive oil on top.

  9. Seal the jars and place in a dark cool spot for 8 weeks while they preserve. Once opened keep the jar in the fridge for up to 1 year. If the liquid becomes thick and white this is just the lemon pulp. They are ready to use once the rind has become soft.

 

Prep time: 15 minutes

 

Recipe, styling and photography by Bonnie Coumbe. See her site here & Instagram here.