Preserved Lemons

A natural extension of not buying super processed pantry items is a foray into canning and preserving. I’ve been a bit lazy because there are TONS of local, ‘homemade’ options available here in Asheville that are made by people who think the same way we do about food. From watching my grandmother do it year after year, the canning process takes lots of work! Why do it myself when I can support local businesses by buying from these folks? Because, it’s a skill, and skills and their concepts are great things to understand. Plus, I’m just curious.

My desire to learn how to preserve food has been fermenting for a while {pun very much intended}, but something keeps stopping me. The truth—I’m scared, way scared. Terrified is probably a more accurate word. Botulism is no joke and this food safety, food-bourne-illness-germaphobe has some real issues trusting that I’m not going to kill my whole family with blueberry preserves. Real issues.

Shortly after our trip to Morocco, the Kiwi started begging me to give Moroccan food a go at home. The food we had in Morocco was out of this world flavorful, so I started doing some research and found preserved lemons in loads of the recipes. Thus began my search for preserved lemons so that I could put that tajine I got Zane for Christmas to good use. I love our local makers, but I haven’t seen preserved lemons here. Probably because most of us didn’t know they were a thing or maybe we think we have no need for them in our cooking. Unless you’ve tried them, you might think the same thing. But just you wait…

Anyway, where was I?

Oh right, I needed preserved lemons but couldn’t find any. I’d been chatting to an experienced food preserver about my desire to learn, the advice was always the same—start with something easy and something highly acidic. I saw Sarah’s post on how she made her own preserved lemons in only a week as opposed to the month it takes to make the real deal and thought that would be just the ticket! It looked so easy! So on a whim and high bout of self-confidence, I embarked on making my hacker version of preserved lemons. Seriously, it’s so simple a kindergartener could do it; well, a kindergartener you trust with a large chef’s knife…

Preserved Lemons from Kiwi and Peach

Preserved Lemons

4-5 organic lemons
around 1/4 cup of sea salt
pint sized canning jar

Scrub your lemons as well as you possible can and then dry them.

As thinly as your knife skills will allow, slice your lemons. As you’re slicing, pick out any seeds from your lemon rounds. Also, sit the ends to the side. We’ll be using them later.

Make sure that the jar you are using has been thoroughly washed with hot, hot, hot water and dried. Alternatively layer the lemon slices with a healthy amount of sea salt between each layer. You will rinse the salt off later when you use them in your cooking, so don’t skimp! It’s important! Pack the layers as tightly as you can, pushing down regularly as you go.

Stop a couple inches from the top and squeeze the juice from the ends into the jar then use the ends to push down and pack the layers really tightly. The goal is for any gap to be filled with juice. You can then toss the ends and put the lid on the jar.

Store it in your cupboard or a cool dark place for a week. You’ll know it’s ready when the rinds are soft.

And there you have it! Preserved lemons that will make you feel oh so fancy!

Once opened, I stored my jar in the fridge and it’s become my super quick go-to for recipes that call for lemon juice. I just sub in three or four rounds, depending on the size, per lemon. It’s been great in some of our older recipes like the pesto and avocado pasta, but it has also led to some wonderful new recipes! Now I just have to tackle the tajine…

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4 thoughts on “Preserved Lemons

  1. I am probably your mother’s age plus some and only recently returned to preserving things. My memories are of both picking whatever and stirring, etc. in the hot and humid summer of the Midwest.

    Fast forward to present time. I live in northwest Montana – not so hot nor humid and our local stuff is not ready until mid to late August. AND, I love marmalade which is citrus and a winter thing. So, I’ve returned to preserving and actually small batch preserving which I love – not so much mess, big pots, etc.

    All that to say, this is the perfect lemon preserving recipe for me. I use a lot of lemons. I panic when I’m down to my last 2 or 3. This is the answer – thank you!

    • I have such fond memories of watching my Memommy making preserves and prepping all sorts of vegetables for canning. I would absolutely love to learn how to do it, but this is a start.

      We use lots of lemons too, so it’s great to know that I have a way to get that fresh lemony taste in the fridge ready to go!

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