I have wanted to make preserved lemons for a long time so when I had the opportunity to buy organic lemons (straigt from Sicily), finally I made it. Preserved lemon is a condiment that is common in North African cuisine, especially in Morocco (it is used in dishes like tagines). Diced/quartered/halved or whole lemons are pickled in a brine of lemon juice and salt; occasionally spices are included as well. The pickle is allowed to ferment at room temperature for weeks or months before it is used. The pulp of the preserved lemon can be used in stews and sauces, but it is the peel (zest and pith together) that is most valued. The flavor is mildly tart but intensely lemony.
I found the recipe on Ashley’s blog but she adapted it from Paula Wolfert’s book, The Food of Morocco (which I would love to buy!).
Moroccan Preserved Lemons
Ingredients for a 1,5 liters (3,17 pints) jar
– 6-7 organic lemons
– juice of 10-12 lemons
– 3/4 cup salt
– 8-10 coriander seeds
– 2-3 bay leaves
– 1-2 teaspoon cumin seeds
Have ready a 1,5 liters (3,17 pints) canning jar.
Wash and dry lemons to remove any surface dust or dirt. Scrub the skin to lift any dirt or grit that is hard to remove. Quarter the lemons from the top to within 1-2 centimeters (1/2 inch) of the bottom. Sprinkle each lemon with as much salt as possible (salt extracts juice from the lemon, softening the rind). Reshape the lemons.
Place 1 tablespoon of salt on the bottom of the jar. Push lemons into jar and sprinkle over the remaining salt. and add the spices between the layers. Press the lemons down to release their juices. Pour over more lemon juice to completely cover lemons. Seal and label the jar. Let the lemons ripen for about 30 days in a warm (but no direct sunlight) place.
To use, remove a lemon from the jar and rinse under running water. Remove and discard the pulp if needed.
And here are some photos of our Moroccan trip back in 2008. Now relax a little, turn the music on and enjoy the pictures…
Click for larger photos!