Monday, 8 August 2011

preserved lemons

There has been some knitting but it's not worth a photo.  The leg of the first navy sock is a bit longer and I've done not quite half of the edging of a shawl by the Shetland Trader, Gudrun Johnston.  The yarnovers are picked up when the edging is finished and the shawl knitted from there.  This means the number of stitches decreases as the shawl grows.

I love the flavours of Moroccan food and the beautiful aromas as it simmers away gently.  I love the spices and the preserved lemon which is an important part of the flavour.  Now when I was with DIL and son, I used the very large jar of preserved lemons which they had been given.  I've been missing it since I moved.

I'm a bit of a lemon freak.  Preserved lemon usually uses just the rind and the flesh is scraped off.  I'll happily eat a piece straight from the jar, flesh and all.  If a slice of lemon is  served with a meal, I can eat all of that too.  I was surprised a couple of years ago when one of my granddaughters asked for a slice of lemon to eat as I prepared a meal, so she has the same tastes I have.  However I hate preserved or candied peel and loathe marmalade unless it's the ginger variety with lots of ginger as well as the peel.

So I decided to make my own lemons.

  You'll need lemons, salt and spices which are optional.  I can't tell you how many lemons, it depends on the size of your container. With winter here, lemons are cheap, plentiful and of good quality.  Even better, many have them growing on their own trees, a luxury I no longer have.  Choose lemons with unblemished skin if possible, as that's the part which is used in a dish.

Wash and dry your container.  I have a  glass jar and lid as the acid from the lemons  and the corrosive salt will attack a metal lid and your lemons will be spoilt and inedible.

Cover the base of the jar with salt.  I've used sea salt as I had quite a bit of it, but other salt is fine too.

Cut your lemons.  I used 6.5 lemons for this  fairly small jar.  Some recipes suggest cutting in quarters but not all the way through.  Open the lemon out like a flower and pack with salt.  Slices the size of a quarter would overpower the smallish dishes I try to cook for myself, so I cut my quarters in half again.  I actually think they can be packed down more easily cut like that.

After each layer, cover the lemons with more salt.  Spices can be added if liked.  Not essential.  I've used star anise and cinnamon stick.  Coriander seeds would be good  too, but I'm out of them.

Keep adding layers of lemons and salt, packing them in as tightly as you can manage.  When you have filled the jar as tightly as possible, carefully pour in fresh lemon juice, letting it trickle down to fill any spaces in the jar.

Close jar carefully, wipe clean, label and date.  That's all there is to the process, except you have to be patient.  Place in fridge and turn every day for a week.  If the level of juice goes down as it's absorbed, top it up with more juice to keep the pieces covered.  You will need to wait 3-4  weeks for the skin to soften and  mature.

Use in Moroccan dishes.  Preserved lemons are also good with veal or chicken.  Sit back and enjoy the aroma in your kitchen and then enjoy your meal.  Bon appétit!


Rose Red said...

Well isn't that easy! I didn't realise it was so easy to make preserved lemon!

Bells said...

i'm with you on the preserved lemon taste - it's fabulous and I always lick my fingers when handling them. yum!

My FIL just gave me a bag of lemons. I know what I'm doing with some of them now. I was thinking of all the baking etc and just didn't think of preserving them!

A few months ago i made a lime pickle from a bag of limes - that's been a real winner. Slightly more time consuming and fiddly than the preserved lemons, but definitely worth it!

Lynne said...

Older Grandson eats lemons as any other citrus fruit. He loves oranges and mandarins too but he got very bad nappy rash and all citrus had to be stopped!

I went to a very nice Morrocan shop when on a Food Safari tour a few years ago; I think it was in Botany.

I chuckled at you having the date one day ahead! Is that so they last longer? LOL

Jan said...

OOPS! I didn't even notice that.

2paw said...

I love eating lemon too but I also hate the candied or preserved peel and marmalade with thick peel. Thanks for the great recipe, so much better than the cut open like a flower ones. I agree, this looks as if it would be a better fit!!

yarnivorous said...

Oooh, thanks for the recipe! I should get my SiL2b onto it - she is keeper of our lemon tree and it has heaps of lemons at the moment... and she loves preserving things :-)