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Jacqueline is an international award winning journalist whose stories about food never fail to tantalize her reader's taste buds.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Preserved Lemons

Remember the preserved lemons I mentioned eating at the cooking school Maison Arabe? Preserved lemons are often used in classic Moroccan cuisine. Our teacher/chef Mohammed assured me they were easy to make so when I got home I decided to preserve some.

My friends Jackie and Katsu have several beautiful lemon trees in their garden and they provided me with a basket filled with beautifully ripe fruit.

Next step was to go through my notes and find preserving tips and I also spent some time on the Internet researching the procedure.

I now have two large jars of lemons, soaking in salt and their own juices. According to plan, they should be ready to eat in about four weeks.

Preserved Lemons
8-10 Meyer lemons, scrubbed very clean
If you don’t have Meyer lemons, regular lemons will do
1/2 cup kosher salt, more if needed
Extra fresh squeezed lemon juice, if needed
Sterilized quart canning jar

Place 2 Tbsp of additive-free Kosher salt in the bottom of a sterilized jar.

One by one prepare the lemons in the following way. Cut off any protruding stems from the lemons, and cut 1/4 inch off the tip of each lemon. Cut the lemons as if you were going to cut them in half lengthwise, starting from the tip. Don't make the cuts so long (going into the ends) that the lemons separate into pieces; you want to keep the lemons whole. Make another cut in a similar manner, so now the lemon is quartered, but again, attached at the base.

Gently open the lemons and generously sprinkle salt all over the insides and outsides of the lemons.

Pack the lemons in the jar, squishing them down so that juice is extracted and the lemon juice rises to the top of the jar. Fill up the jar with lemons; make sure the top is covered with lemon juice. Add more fresh squeezed lemon juice if necessary. Top with a couple tablespoons of salt.

Tightly close the jar and let sit at room temperature for a couple days, turning the jar upside down then upright several times. After a week, put the jar in your refrigerator and let sit, again turning upside down now and then, for at least 4 weeks, until lemon rinds soften.

When ready to use, remove a lemon from the jar and rinse thoroughly in cold water to remove salt and seeds.

Gently open the lemon and use to adorn your cooked dish. They are especially delicious with chicken but can be used on meats and fish too.

Stored in the refrigerator they will keep for up to year.


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