Preserved or pickled lemons are a preserved fruit, commonly used in many ethnic cuisines. They popular in Cambodia, and in the Middle East, most commonly associated with Morocco. There are many recipes, some with spices others, using just salt. This is a simple and basic recipe. They can be used after one month of fermenting in all sorts of dished ranging from cous cous to tagines. I could buy a jar at our local Turkish market, or I could just make some – it’s very simple ( just lemons, and salt). Here is how we did it:
Here is what you will need:
– a 1 quart glass jar with a tight fitting lid
– 12 Meyer Lemons, or a sweet lemon variety like ‘Ciron beldi’. (12 or more when tightly packed)
– 1/2 cup of sea salt or Kosher salt
1. Add a tablespoon of salt to the bottom of the jar before packing lemons.
2. Cut lemons into quarters, but only deep enough so that the quarters remain connected at the stem end.
2. Rub salt into the quartered lemons, and rub salt all over them ( don’t worry, you will wash off the salt before you cook or eat them).
3. Add lemons to the jar one by one, squeezing in as many as you can, tightly.
4. Layer with salt, as you go, and try to get as many lemons as you can into the jar. I even add some lemon halves to fill in the spaces.
5. Top off the jar with another tablespoon of sea salt, seal and cover with a tight lid.
The preserved lemons will be ready in 1 months time, as the juices mingle with the salt, and they begin to ferment. If you can find them, the smaller ‘petit doqq’ lemons found in Morocco are most favored, but any sweet lemon will do with ‘Meyer’ being the easiest to find. I tried to pick the smallest lemons from our trees so that I could fit as many into the jar – a bit of a luxury on a snowy day in New England in January, but one which requires very little effort at all, as the lemons bloom and set fruit during the summer by themselves, and then are just brought into the greenhouse in the autumn, where they ripen and are ready to pick in January. Remember, they can also be grown in the winter on a cool, sunny windowsill if you have one.