Wednesday, November 6, 2013

keep on hand: preserved lemons

Preserved lemons are great to have around. They are very easy and inexpensive to make, but quite expensive to buy. Whenever I see them for sale a teeny jar costs $10-15.  You will feel very smug when you have homemade preserved lemons and you see those fancy expensive ones in shops. They also make an excellent last minute host gift if you keep an extra jar or two in the fridge. 

Preserved lemons add this wonderful salty, bright boost to all sorts of dishes. I like to puree them  into salad dressing and hummus, mince them and rub onto fish or stick a whole preserved lemon inside a chicken I'm roasting. They are traditionally used in North African cooking, but they are very versatile and I find they work well with all sorts of different flavours, especially feta, halloumi, mint, garlic and chilies. 

I always use organic lemons when I am making preserved lemons; since you will be eating the rind of the lemons, I try to avoid waxed and sprayed lemons.

preserved lemons:
lots of organic, unsprayed lemons
a lot of non-iodized salt
lemon juice, either freshly squeezed or the highest quality bottled juice you can find

Thoroughly wash the lemons. Slice a lemon open lengthways. Stuff a generous amount of salt inside the lemon and place the lemon in a mason jar. Repeat with all lemons. When a jar is full, fill it up with salt and additional lemon juice. The amounts are not exact, but you want to use a lot of salt and make sure that the lemons are covered. You may have a lot of undissolved salt in the jar; that is fine. You can turn the jars upside down occasionally to mix the salt around. Put the jar in the fridge for 4-6 weeks. You will know the lemons are ready when they are soft and squishy and slightly translucent. Rinse them before you use them to reduce salt somewhat. 

photo credits: Tyrel Hiebert

No comments:

Post a Comment