What can I say about preserved lemons other than that they are my MOST favorite condiment. I’ve been making them for years, and always looking for more ways to use them. They are great with rice, pasta, poultry, lamb, a variety of vegetables, sprinkled in a salad or incorporated into dressings and sauces. You can make them the star of the show or so subtle that one hardly knows they are there.
They are very easy to make, but once you make them, you are going to have to wait a few weeks before they’re ready. So start a jar today! Below are the instructions for how I make preserved lemons as well as my first instructional video! How fun is that?! (Be sure to see my Hints to Making an Instructional Video at this end of this post.)
If you don’t want to wait or just don’t want another jar of “something” sitting in your fridge for a few months, then you can make the Quick Preserved Lemons described in this post. These only take 24 hours and with one lemon you can make enough for one or two dishes.
How to Make Preserved Lemons Recipe
Yields: 1.6 pints or ¾ liter
Prep and rest time: 20 minutes prep, 4 weeks rest
5 to 6 large lemons, cleaned and scrubbed
A generous ¼ cup (454 g) kosher or sea salt
One – 1.5 pint (¾ liter) glass jar with rubber gasket and latch (no metal should be exposed to the acid)
- Cut about ¼” of the ends off of 4 lemons. Discard the stem end. Use the other end pieces to fill in the holes as you’re packing the lemons.
- Cut 4 of the lemons in half crosswise. For each half (starting with the cut side) cut into quarters, being careful not to cut all of the way through the base. Stop about ¼” from the base.
- Pour about ½ tsp. (~2.5 grams) salt into each of the “half” cuts and pack into jar.
- Continue this process with 4 of the lemons, packing lemons tight, squeezing some of the juice out of the lemons as you pack them. You should be able to get 4 to 5 lemons in the jar. To fill gaps in the jar you can use quarter pieces and end pieces.
- Once the jar is full, tap the bottom of the jar to dislodge the air bubbles.
- If the amount of lemon juice is below the top of the packed lemons, juice one of the extra lemons. Add enough juice to the jar to cover the lemons or about ½” (1.25 cm) from the top of the jar. Wipe off the rim of the jar with a clean damp cloth and close the lid. (At this point, I rinse the closed jar under running water to remove any salt that may be on the outside of the jar.)
- Set in cool space for 4 weeks. Shake the jar everyday to redistribute the salt through the juice. If you trust the seal, you can turn the jar upside down after a couple of weeks for an hour or so.
- Place in refrigerator after 4 weeks. These lemons will keep up to a year (and probably longer, but I never have any left after a year).
Quick Preserved Lemons (in less than 24 hours)
- Juice 1 lemon and set the juice aside.
- Peel the zest off the lemon. Try not to get any of the white portion or pith.
- Cut the zest into narrow strips and place in a glass jar or bowl. Top with 1 tsp. (5 g) salt and the lemon juice.
- Stir to dissolve some of the salt. If the juice does not cover the zest, add more lemon juice.
- Let sit on the counter for 24 hours.
- Both the zest and the juice can be used, but be careful about adding salt to your dish. Preserved lemons are pretty salty.
Using Preserved Lemons
- One or two lemon halves – stuff in the cavity of poultry when roasting.
- One or two lemon halves with seeds removed – throw in the pot when braising.
- Rinds – chop and add to salads, pasta, rice, and vegetable dishes.
- Preserved juice – wonderful in sauces and salad dressings, as well as added to all of the above.
To reduce the amount of salt, you may choose to rinse the preserved lemon pieces before using. I choose not to. Instead, I don’t add any additional salt to the dish.
Hints to Making an Instructional Video
Originally, I was just going to have Bobby take stills of the process, but then in the middle of our photography session for this post he said “Let’s do a video!” So we immediately jumped from still photography to video. Here’s what I learned:
- When you are inexperienced with being in front of a camera (like me), you can’t jump from still photography (being the observer) to video (being observed) without some pre-planning. In other words – Don’t wing it!
- Write a script!
- Have someone else be the talent if you don’t like your voice, but then – who likes their own voice? Therefore, have someone else be the talent.
- Have enough time and ingredients to do more than one take.
- Have EVERYTHING you need to show the procedure. Example – If you are going to clean the rim of the jar, have something to “clean” the rim of the jar with!
- Do a COMPLETE run through before the camera comes on. That way you know you have everything you’ll need (DUH!) and you can practice the script you didn’t write.
- The procedure you are showing will always take longer than you expect, so be prepared to edit the video, unless – of course – you wrote a script!
Recipes that use or could use preserved lemons:
Roasted Bell Pepper Appetizer (replace the capers and vinegar with a little preserved lemons and lemon juice)
Everything you wanted to know about lemons
Food for Thought: Lemons @ Cajunlicious
Crispy rice with preserved lemons – Tonight I had about 2 1/2 cups leftover rice from some Thai take-out so I threw it in a bowl, added 1/2 cup minced onion, 1 Tbsp. minced preserved lemon, 1 cup chopped arugula, and 2 beaten eggs. Mixed everything together. Melted 1 Tbsp. butter in a non-stick 10″ skillet. Pressed the rice mixture into the skillet, covered, and cooked over medium low for 15 minutes or until eggs were set and the rice against the pan was crispy. I inverted onto a plate and served. It was quite yummy!
Alright – I’ve packed in as much as I could into this post, so “it’s a wrap!”
This Preserved Lemon Recipe has been linked to Overflowing with Creativity, Katherine Martinelli’s DIY Blog Hop, Whole Food Wednesday, Fat Tuesday, Gluten-Free Wednesday. Click on these links to find many more tasty recipes. It was featured on Clever Chicks Blog Hop, October 2012.