Preserving lemons takes a few weeks to accomplish, but it is really simple, and adds so much to Middle Eastern dishes like a chicken tagine.
Preserved lemons are pickled in their own juice and salt. They sit for a number of weeks, and when they are done can be kept in the fridge for months. The peel of the lemon becomes full of flavour through the preserving process, so you use this part and get rid of the flesh.
I still have to do some experimenting with other uses of preserved lemons, but I have tried them in a dip, and on some fish, as well as with chicken. So good!
I’ve only made this once, and I halved the recipe just in case I didn’t like it. Here is the full recipe from Yotam Ottolenghi’s The Cookbook.
What you need:
- 1 jar just large enough to hold all the lemons squished in tightly
- boiling water
- 6 unwaxed lemons
- 6 tablespoons coarse sea salt
- 2 sprigs rosemary (optional)
- 1 large red chile
- juice of 6 lemons
- olive oil
What you do:
- Fill the jar with boiling water and let it sit for a minute to sterilize it. Pour the water out and let it sit without touching or drying it.
- Wash the lemons and cut a cross in them from one end to about 2cm from the bottom so the 4 quarters are still attached. Pour a tablespoon of salt into each lemon, then fit them tightly into the jar. Seal the jar and leave it for at least a week. I left mine in a cupboard.
- After the first week, remove the lid and push the lemons down to squeeze as much juice out as you can. Add the rosemary, chile, and as much lemon juice as you need to cover the lemons. Pour a thin layer of olive oil on top. Seal the jar and leave in a cool place for at least 4 weeks. I put mine in the fridge at this point and forgot about them for a few months. They turned out awesome!
- To use the lemons, remove the flesh from the inside of one and rinse the peel. Chop it up and use as you wish.