There’s just a hint of spring in the air here in the UK, and my thoughts are already turning to fresh salads and light ‘spring-like’ food!
There are wonderful citrus fruit in the shops at the moment, and this recipe brings all the intensity of citrus flavours to the fore, while in the meantime gentling the sharpness that can sometimes be too overpowering.
Preserving lemons takes about a month, and then, stored in the refrigerator, they will last for months… which is great, because you don’t need much to bring a zing to any dish.
Typically preserved lemons are used in Moroccan dishes such as Tagine, and Couscous, but with just a little imagination I think there are many possibilities to introduce this gorgeous flavour : salads, pasta, curries, marinades for tofu and tempeh, side dishes such as french beans, asparagus or carrots, as well as sauces, dressings and even desserts. As well as Mediterranean dishes such as hummus or olive tapenade.
I litre jar : 8-10 lemons (and limes)
- 1)The favoured choice of lemon for preserving is Meyer lemon, but other types of lemon work fine. It’s important they’re unwaxed, as you will be eating the rind ….
- 2) I used Himalayan salt … which is the only salt I use in the kitchen these days.
- The best jar to use is almost certainly a glass kilner jar with a good tight seal. Don’t use metallic lids as they will react with the lemon juice.
- 8-10 ripe lemons and limes : organic, unwaxed. I used a mix : 4 limes, 6 lemons.
- 130gms. salt
- 6 bay leaves
- 1 tsp. coriander seeds
- 0.5 tsp. cumin seeds
- 2 tsp. fennel seeds
- Sterilise the jar: Wash the kilner jar in hot soapy water. Rinse very thoroughly and then place it (without the rubber seal) in a pre-heated oven (Gas Mk. 2 – 150C) until it is dry. This should take about 20 – 30 mins. Remove the jar from the oven and allow to cool.
- In a bowl, mix the salt, the coriander seeds, the fennel seeds and the cumin seeds together.
- Thoroughly wash and dry the lemons and limes.
- Remove the little nobbles top and bottom of the lemons.
- Cut a lemon in half lengthways, leaving it joined at the base of the lemon.
- Then make a second cut as though you were cutting the lemon in quarters lengthways, again leaving the 4 sections joined (about 1 cm.)
- When the sterilised kilner jar is cool enough to handle, line the base of the jar with 3 tsps. of the salt / spice mix.
- Then place 2 of the bay leaves over the layer of salt.
- Then stuff the sliced lemon with approximately 2 tsps. of the salt/spice mix, and place the lemon in the jar.
- Repeat with a second lemon (or lime). Push and squeeze the lemons into the base of the jar as snuggly as possible. Squeeze the lemons to allow the lemon juice to start releasing into the jar.
- Repeat with each lemon/lime, squeezing them into place to reduce air pockets and to continue releasing the juice.
- When the lemons are half way up the jar, add a second layer of 2 bay leaves.
- When the jar is full, keep pushing the lemons in order to release the juice.
- Cover the final layer of lemons with the last 2 bay leaves, tucking them into place.
- If the juice doesn’t cover the lemons and bay leaves, you can add more lemon juice, or some cold, filtered water.
- When everything is submerged, sterilise the rubber seal of the kilner jar : by immersing it in boiling water and then dry it with clean kitchen towel and slip it on to the lid before closing the jar).
- Place the jar in a cool area for 2-3 days.
- If you have a cool dark place such as a pantry with a marble slab, then it’s fine to leave the preserving lemons out in a cool dark place for the next month or so.
- Otherwise, you can refrigerate them.
They are ready when the rind is really soft.
One you start using the lemons, keep them refrigerated and always top up the liquid in the jar with water, so that the preserved lemons remain submerged.
To use: rinse the lemon segments thoroughly to remove salt. Really, the rind is the most important bit as the pulp is likely to have absorbed too much salt, but feel free to experiment.
Watch this space as my lemons will be ready in a month, and I will be dreaming up one or two recipes to add them to.
Can’t wait 🙂
Something to look forward to 🙂