fresh, seasonal, approachable home cooking
To the American ear, “preserved lemons” may sound, at best, unappetizing, but nothing can jazz up your dinner routine quite like them. A staple in Moroccan cooking, they are nothing more than lemons preserved in salt. Some folks like to branch out with different herbs or spices, but for simplicity’s sake, I stick with unsprayed lemons and sea salt. That’s all it takes to take a tagine or even a simple roasted chicken from good to great. Simply pour a couple of tablespoons of sea salt (or kosher, or whatever salt you want to use as long as it isn’t table salt or anything with iodine added to it) into the bottom of a mason jar. Trim the ends off of several lemons and stand them vertically, then slice in half, leaving the bottom half inch or so in tact. Give the lemon a quarter turn and slice it the same way again so that you now have cut an “x” into it. Your lemon should look like a really tall flower with four petals at this point. Stuff it with a tablespoon or two of salt, then place it in the mason jar. Repeat this with as many lemons as you can stuff into the jar- really pack them in there- then cover and let rest for a day. The salt will draw out the juice from the lemons and settle into the bottom of the jar. The next day, if enough juice hasn’t been released to cover the lemons, top off the jar with additional lemon juice. Let that sit somewhere cool for a couple of weeks, checking every day to make sure the lemons are submerged. Once the rinds are soft, store the lemons in the fridge for up to six months, if they last that long in your kitchen. When you use them, scrape out the flesh of the lemon and use the rind only. I used meyer lemons in the above photo, but regular lemons are fine too. If you’re wondering what on earth to do with preserved lemon, here are some ideas. Enjoy!