Preserved lemons may sound like something a bit odd, I mean you can buy lemons in the supermarket, so why preserve them? Well preserved lemons are completely different in taste and texture to fresh lemons and you use them in a different way.
Think of gorgeously spicy Moroccan food, tagines and the like, think of couscous. Oftentimes these dishes are flavoured with preserved lemons. The tanginess is just wonderful. Even if you don’t cook Moroccan a lot, you can still use these tasty treats in so many dishes.
This is a really easy preserve to make, actually it is more of an assembly job than any sort of cooking mission.
I used a large sized Kilner jar and managed to squeeze in 5 lemons. You want to fill the jar with lemony goodness so buy in a couple of bags whenever the supermarket has them reduced!
All you need is 5 lemons that will go into the jar, another 2 that you will zest and juice, a packet of rock salt and water, oh and I used 4 bay leaves as well.
Slice the lemons almost but not quite into quarters, you want to have enough skin in the end to just hold the pieces together. Now push the rock salt right into every part of the lemon and squish it into the jar. Do the same with the other lemons and push them all in there, add salt round about them and fill gaps with extra quarters of lemons. Push the bay leaves down the sides of the jar.
Grate the zest off the extra lemons and then squeeze out all the juice. Add this to your lemon filled jar and then top up with water to cover the lemons.
Secure the lid and shake like mad, think Tom Cruise in Cocktail and really get those bingo wings flying!
Now calm down and put the jar someplace where you won’t forget it. Make sure you shake it every day for a week to dissolve all the salt, add a bit more if it seems to vanish very quickly.
The preserved lemons will be ready for use in 3 months time. They will then be soft and squishy and you will be able to remove the flesh easily and chop that gorgeously fragrant peel to add to casseroles, soups, stews, couscous, rice and the like.
A taste of summer sunshine in the colder, darker months.