When Life Gives You Lemons, Preserve Them
Posted Thu, 08/02/2012 - 12:00am by Gretchen Rogge
Eight years ago, Scott and I were installing cabinets at a home. I couldn't help but notice, a huge jar of beautiful yellow lemons. I inquired about them and was educated on the process of preserving lemons. For years the couple taught school in Morocco, where preserved lemons are a staple in Moroccan cooking. The vision of those lemons, stayed on my mind and I knew someday I would have to try it myself. That day has come. And what a treat! Two very simple ingredients and a little patience and you can make magic too. Start with organic lemons, because you will, in the end, be eating the entire lemon, so you want them to chemical free (no radioactive lemons please). I started with four organic lemons to a 1 liter jar.
- Start by slicing off the top and bottom of each lemon, just enough to flatten each end. You don't have to slice slice deep into the flesh.
- Then set your lemon on one of those flat spots and slice down the center to the bottom, but don't slice all the way through, leave it together by a 1/2" inch or more.
- Then make another slice just like that one, so the top view is forming an X, or four equal quadrants, again not slicing all the way through.
- Next take sea salt and generously pour the salt into the cuts you just made. Squish and pack lots of the salt into the lemon flesh. Do this over a bowl, so you can work easier, but still reserve any salt or juice.
- After the lemon is well packed with salt, add it to the jar and continue the process with all of the lemons. Have a few extra lemons on hand to juice into the packed jar, if more liquid is needed to top it off. The lemons should be submerged in salt and juice.
- Leave this lovely mixture sit on the counter at room temp, and once a day smash on them a bit and turn the jar upside down a few times. You will do this for 6 weeks. If you start to loose juice, just add some more, you want your lemons to remain covered. As you care for your lemons, you will notice something beautiful taking place. Your lemons will take on a softness and the juice they are bathing in, will become a lovely syrup.
After the transformation, to something beautiful, they are ready to use. I have found some recipes to use these beauties in, but have yet to try them. I will have to get back to you on those, but what I can report, is wonderful. We have been grilling chicken lately on the rotisserie basket Scott got for Father's Day. Marinating chicken legs in a mixture of finely diced preserved lemons, fresh cracked pepper, fresh thyme, and a little olive oil. No need to use salt, the lemons add enough saltiness on their own. The salty, citrus flavor pierces the chicken and favors it wonderfully. If you are the type of person that peels the skin off your chicken, because you don't eat the skin, with this dish you would only pull the skin off to save it for dessert. And I'm not even joking. So yummy. Last night we did a whole organic chicken on the rotisserie. I diced up a quarter of a preserved lemon, some fresh thyme and fresh cracked pepper. I slid my hand between the breast meat and skin on the chicken and smeared this delicious mixture between the two. Fabulous!
These lemons have become a staple in our house and if you give them a chance, I'm guessing you will love them too....