Preserving Lemons, the Moroccan Way.

Preserved lemons, pickled in a brine of salt and spices are a staple in Moroccan and Middle-Eastern kitchens. The flavor is like lemon zest only considerably stronger so a small amount goes a long way in your dishes. Wield this power carefully. Preserving lemons can go a long way.

Preserved lemons are easy to make. In this recipe we decided to opt for a traditional combination of garlic, cinnamon, and peppercorns, but feel free to get creative and add any other whole spices you think would suit your purpose. Exact amounts are another thing you needn’t worry about. Just be sure to pack the lemons with a generous amount of salt, then add more filling up your jars to the top before sealing.

The most important part in preserving lemons is knowing what part you’ll actually be using once they’re ready! After your salt pack, the flesh and pith will become bitter and unusable, it is the rind that will be transformed into a delicious lemony new substance. With this in mind be sure to scrub your lemons well before proceeding with the preserving to get rid of any wax or impurities on the skin.

During their 30 day soak the lemons will begin to break down making them easy to separate. Set your jar out of direct sunlight or heat and every few days give the whole thing a gentle shake. Once the lemons are done simply use a paring knife to separate the skin from the rest. Slice the skin up into thin strips and proceed to use in anything and everything. Preserved lemons do especially well in rich stews, vegetable sautés, and baked fish.

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Preserving Lemons

Ingredients

  • 12 lemons
  • Salt, kosher
  • Garlic cloves
  • Cinnamon Stick
  • Black Peppercorns

Instructions

Cut the Lemons

Begin by cutting the tip off the top of 5 of your lemons. Slice the lemons into quarters long-ways stopping about an inch from the bottom. The wedges should be easy to spread apart while still remaining joined at the base. They should look something like a flower.

Stuff with Salt

Spread your cut lemons apart with one hand, using the other generously pack the interior of the lemon with salt. Press the wedges back together so it looks like a whole lemon again.

Place in a Jar

Spread a thick layer of salt in the bottom of a large glass jar that has a lid. Begin adding the salted lemons. Using a wooden spoon smash down the lemons until they release some of their juices and are slightly flattened.

Spices

Around and in between, begin to add your spices. Packing them in tightly with more salt and lemons. Continue to layer like this until you have reached the top of the jar.

Add Liquid

Squeeze the juice of the remaining seven lemons into the jar, then add more salt until everything has been fully submerged. Close the lid carefully and shake the whole thing to combine.

Wait

Set aside the jar for 30 days, giving it a shake every few days. When ready to use, remove lemons from the jar and rinse away the brine and salt. Separate the quarters fully and using a sharp paring knife cut out the flesh and scrape away the pith.

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Hannah Abaffy

Hannah Abaffy

Pastry Chef & Recipe Development

Hannah Abaffy is a pastry chef and an active member of the culinary community. From working in kitchens to developing recipes, and creating menus for restaurants, she has been involved with food in one capacity or another for the past decade. After starting a food history blog, Hannah has been continuously writing and learning about the ever-changing realm of cuisine, its history, and its future. Since then her appetite to learn about and share all things that touch upon the world of food can only be described as voracious.

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