Hear ye hear ye. I have begun what I hope to be a long and prosperous (and safe) lifetime of canning and preserving. My first project is so simple I didn’t need to pressure can, water bath, or cook anything! It started with some organic lemons I found in a bag at the store:
Preserved lemons you say? Yes indeed. I’ve heard they’re used a lot in Moroccan cooking–something I know almost nothing about. In fact, I have only eaten Moroccan food once in my life (and it was while I was in France), and I don’t remember if it contained any preserved lemons, but I remember it was delicious. And spicy. Everyone’s face turned pink.
Until I increase my knowledge of Moroccan cuisine, I plan to use my preserved lemons as a topping for fish and chicken dishes (which are the kinds of things I might use regular lemons for anyway), just for starters.
And I guess a part of me is proud/delighted to be a part of the D.I.Y. (that stands for Do-It-Yourself) and artisnal movements that are slowly taking the nation by storm (fun examples and projects here).
Understandably, lemons are not local to Virginia (with the exception of a few varieties that can grow here). So, by some arguments, there should be no reason for me to be in possession of lemons that need preserving in the first place. But as a cook and one to take advantage of a sale, this is actually a pretty good use of my time and energy, don’t you think?
So here’s how you do it.
1. Rinse lemons in hot water and scrub to remove any wax that may be on them from packing.
2. Cut the ends off each lemon and then cut them into quarters.
3. Sprinkle some kosher salt in the bottom of the jar you are going to store them in. Sprinkle some salt into the exposed lemon guts. Continue with as many lemons as you can fit into the jar, layering with salt as you go (I was able to fit 3 lemons in a 0.5-liter jar). Finish with another layer of salt on the top then close the jar.
4. Food In Jars says to leave the jars on the counter for three days, shaking them a couple times a day. You’ll see that the lemons will start to sit in their own juice which has been drawn out by the salt.
5. After three days, store in the fridge for 3 weeks and then they’ll be ready to use. And by use, I mean rinsing them and chopping them up into small pieces to use in whatever dish you deem appropriate. Otherwise, keep them in the fridge until you are ready to use them.
So, check back in three weeks or so to see what I make and for my description of how they taste! I am so looking forward to seeing the transformation that takes place both visually and in flavor–apparently preserved lemons have more of a savory taste and much of the sour bite has mellowed.
In the meantime, have you got some winter citrus lying around that you don’t know what to do with? Won’t you consider making some preserved citrus along with me? It’s super easy and quite enjoyable. Or maybe you have a suggestion for a dish I could make which uses preserved lemons? Do comment.