Preserved Lemons are a super fast, super easy way to add that little something extra to your cooking. The something that takes it from Yum to WOW.
It will take three to four weeks for the lemon peels to become soft. This is what you are after, the peels. The pulp is just there to provide juice and hold the peels together. A simple jar of Preserved Lemons with bay leaves can be used everywhere. A fine dice added to tuna salad or larger pieces that garnish a fish fillet. Split Pea Soup will sing after the addition of some chopped lemon peel. Should you put them in a marinade? Yes! What about martinis? MMMM...
4 pounds Meyer Lemons (makes 2 quart jars)
1/2 cup canning/pickling salt
This first step is very important, you must sterilize your jars. This is not going in to a water bath or pressure canner, things must be sterile from the get go. The first step is also the most time consuming. You will be finished preparing the lemons before the jars are ready.
Wash the lemons. Over a large bowl slice the lemons in to almost quarters. I say almost because you are going to leave one end in tact, this will hold the lemons together.
Place about a tablespoon of salt over the bottom of the sterilized jar. Holding the lemon over a large bowl, open it slightly and pour a teaspoon of salt over the flesh. Put the lemon in the jar and press down. Harder. Your goal is to get lots and lots of juice out of the lemon. Continue adding salted lemons to the jar until it is almost full. You may need to juice a couple more lemons to cover the salted lemons with juice.
Add spices if you like. Bay leaves, peppercorns and cinnamon are traditional, but think about allspice berries and cardamon. Any whole spice could work.
Now let the jars sit on the counter for 5 days. Give them a little shake when you think of it. The fruit will not look as fresh as it did when you began this adventure, but it will not get foam or scum or anything you need to deal with. After 5 days put the jars in the fridge and wait. It will take a good three weeks before they are ready. You will know they are ready when the peels have softened. The lemons will keep for a year in the refrigerator.
The jar with cinnamon and peppercorns can be added to rich stews and curry. Stroganoff would benefit with a little lemon kick. Anything that would be brightened with a squeeze of citrus is a good candidate. I can not wait to try them in salsa! What about a cookie with nuts? Go wild, be bold.