All foodies know: a little bit of lemon juice makes a dish come ‘alive’. But the effects of preserved lemons are really amazing. They let your food rock! Preserved lemons taste different than fresh lemons. They are more intense and possess a soft texture. At the same time they are less tart.
Preserved lemons are typical North-African ingredients. They are mainly used in tagines, stews (for example this pumpkin stew) and salads. But also in India preserved lemons (and limes) are traditional ingredients in, for example, rice and curd. You can buy preserved lemons in your local Middle-Eastern grocery store. But It’s also fun and easy to pickle them by yourself. The only thing you need is patience and sunshine. And a sterile jar.
Preserved lemons (or limes) recipe
Preparation time: 10 minutes
a sterile jar
100 gr. salt
5 lemons or six limes. Organic is recommended
Wash and dry the lemons. If they are not organic, let them soak for 5 minutes in water with vinegar. Then rinse and dry.
Slice the lemons from the top to the bottom in quarters until 1-2 cm (1 inch) from the bottom. The quarters should stick together at the bottom.
Sprinkle a lot of salt on the exposed flesh. Don’t be economical. Close the lemons again. Add the lemons in the jar. Every time you put a lemon in the jar, sprinkle some extra salt on it. The salt helps the lemons to preserve and to remove the fruit juice.
Press with your hand on the lemons and squeeze the juice out. The lemons should be covered by the juice. If this isn’t the case, add extra fresh lemon juice.
Place the jar in a warm, sunny place. Wait 30 days. Shake the jar every day.
When the lemons are well preserved they are ready for use. Slice a piece from one lemon, wash to remove excess the salt, remove the pulp and cut the peel into little pieces. Add to your favorite dish.
Store in the fridge, although traditionally in Morocco the preserved lemons are kept outside the fridge, in a cool and dark place. The preserved lemons stay good for ages. At least six months to a year. If there is a little bit of white mould it’s not a big problem. Just cut it away. Of course, when they are very mouldy, throw them away. Remember for your next preserving attempt to increase hygiene standards.