Preserved Lemons

By Beacon Staff

I just recently returned from an amazing trip to Morocco and on this trip my main goal was to get as many different spices as I could through customs. But while traveling one of the favorite things that I discovered was preserved lemons. I usually found them in amongst the magnificent displays in the souq or unexpectedly hidden in a tajine dish at dinner, but wherever they turned up they were always a welcome surprise! But you don’t have to travel all the way to Morocco to have this amazing flavor and this is how …

To get started you will need to gather the following ingredients:

  • 5 lemons
  • 1/4 cup salt
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 3 cloves
  • 5 to 6 coriander seeds
  • 3 to 4 black peppercorns
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Freshly squeezed lemon juice, if necessary

I like my peels a bit softened and to do this, blanch the lemons for 30 seconds in boiling water and then cool quickly in ice water until fully chilled. Pat dry.

Next, quarter the lemons from the top to within 3/4 inch of the bottom, sprinkle the interior with salt and then reshape to seal in the seasoning. Place 1 tablespoon salt on the bottom of a sterilized 1 pint mason jar mason. Pack in the lemons and push them down, adding more salt, cinnamon stick, cloves, coriander seeds, peppercorns and bay leaf.

Press the lemons down to release their juices and to make room for the remaining lemons. If the juice released from the squashed fruit does not cover them, add freshly squeezed lemon juice. Leave some air space before sealing the jar. Let the lemons ripen in a warm place, shaking the jar each day to distribute the salt and juice. Let ripen for 30 days. To use, rinse the lemons, as needed, under running water, removing and discarding the pulp, if desired. There is no need to refrigerate after opening. Preserved lemons will keep up to a year, and the pickling juice can be used two or three times over the course of that year. Use these to spice up any dish or sauce … Enjoy!

Josh Auerhammer is the chef/owner of the Culinary Design Studio in Bigfork.

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