Friday, January 2, 2009

Preserved Lemons

I love preserved lemons and always have some on the go, usually from Maggie Beer but also from resourceful friends. But I had never actually preserved any myself. Cleaning out the pantry was the trigger for this burst of activity, as was having a few days at home. I found two jars of coarse kitchen salt at the back of the pantry: I had bought it when I was into making my own olives. So what could I do with it? A friend said she wished she had known about my stock before she had to buy some to make preserved lemons! Now was the time to preserve lemons, especially as I was doing a census of my empty jars.

I read recipes in Stephanie's bible and also had a look at Claudia Roden. And let's face it did a bit of a Google too. Some recipes require storing for at least a month, while other recipes suggest tips for practically instant gratification such as freezing the lemons or cooking them in advance. A special touch Greg Malouf gives is to add honey: I knew this because I have bought his ready made. After all this, I decided to do the non-instant variety, to marinate them (as it were) overnight, to add cloves, cinnamon stick, bay leaves, coriander seeds, and then to mix some honey with the final lot of lemon juice a la Malouf. We'll see how they turn out in a month or so.


7 large, thick-skinned lemons
1 cup coarse kitchen salt
3 dry bay leaves
2 cinnamon sticks
coriander seeds
1 dessertspoon honey


Scrub and quarter the lemons and place in a large stainless steel bowl
Pour in salt and mix well
Cover and leave for 24 hours
Break up bay leaves and cinnamon sticks and put cloves and coriander seeds at hand
Pulpate lemons in salt to release as much juice at possible
Pack lemon quarters into jars with rind facing the edge, pressing down hard to release juice
Insert pieces of bay leaf and cinnamon stick and cloves and coriander on different layers as packing
Heat dessertspoon with hot water and spoon honey into remaining lemon and salt mix
Place the bowl briefly on fire and stir until honey is melted
Spoon the salty mixture into the jars, pressing down firmly to ensure that liquid penetrates and covers all the fruit
Wipe jars and cap tightly
Store for at least a month in cool spot.

Then enjoy either as a condiment with fish or cold meats, or for cooking. These should last for years without refrigeration, says Stephanie!

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