I’ve been making preserved lemons since my trip to Morocco around 2002, for studies. Every market sold piles of them. They were used in a number of recipes but primarily for the chicken tajine with lemons and olives. I used to make that dish a lot more often, too, in the early 2000′s, when I wasn’t taking photographs of my food.
In a recent fridge clearout, I got rid of all my old lemons. My friend Karen gave me a bag of lemons earlier in the week, the skins were too thick for her uses. Thick thins are perfect for preserved lemons!
I skipped a step in making them, I should have briefly put the whole lemons in a pot of boiling water to soften them lightly and mobilize the juices. I forgot. I was trying to do the recipe from memory and my memory was that the steps were very easy.
lemons – thick skinned if possible, like Eurekas
optional spices: bay leaf, peppercorns, cloves, cinnamon stick
* Slice the lemons thickly.
* In a very clean non-reactive jar, like glass with rubber gasket, layer in a teaspoon of kosher or sea salt (not iodized / tablesalt).
* Place a layer of cut lemons in the jar. Alternate between lemons and salt, about a teaspoon of salt per layer. Add a few spices if you wish every few layers, I used one fresh bay leaf and a few peppercorns. This is completely optional.
* While layering, gently press down on the lemons to release their juices.
* Fill the jar about 3/4 full of lemons. If the lemons are particularly juicy you might not need to add additional lemon juice. But if the juice does not cover the lemons, juice some separate lemons and add juice until the lemons in the jar are covered.
* Seal and let this mingle for at least 30 days. Lightly shake the jar every day to stir up the juices. The lemons should last 6-12 months. Some people dispose of the pulp, as the skins are the best parts used, but I find it doesn’t make much difference to keep the insides, so I don’t bother with the extra work of separating them.