12 May2008

lemons1

Essentially brined lemons, these preserved lemons are used in all sorts of Moroccan tagines and other slow cooked stews. They add a salty, tangy hint of citrus to the dishes, but without the harshness and bitterness associated with fresh lemons. They keep for ages and you only use a teeny weeny bit each time so this recipe should be more than enough for a year’s worth of occasional cooking in the Moroccan style. The recipe is from Gourmet Magazine, and I made this batch with the intention of trying out a recipe they featured with crab meat, sambal oelek and preserved lemons on spaghettini pasta, link here.

lemons2

Ideally, you would want to make this recipe with organic lemons, not treated with wax (yes, they spray many commercial lemons with a film of wax). If you can’t get them, buy about 10 good looking lemons (unblemished skins), then scrub 5 of them vigorously under warm water with a vegetable brush. Then blanche 5 of the lemons in boiling water for about 5 minutes and cool for 10-15 minutes until easier to handle. Slice each boiled lemon into 8 wedges, remove the seeds and place them in a stainless steel or glass bowl. Add about 2/3 cup of good sea salt, not iodized salt, the ones with larger crystals, and toss gently. Pack these into a small to medium sized jar and squeeze enough juice from the remaining lemons (I only used the juice of 3 lemons, but you may need more) to add to the jar and ensure the lemons are submerged in salt and lemon juice. Close your jar and let it sit on your kitchen counter at room temperature for 3-5 days, shaking the jar gently, once every day. Open the jar, add a tablespoon or so of extra virgin olive oil, close the jar again and store in the refrigerator. The lemons will be ready to use in about a week’s time. They will last about a year in the refrigerator. When you use the preserved lemons, many recipes ask you to remove the pulp and rinse the lemons as they can be incredibly salty. This batch turned out great, and they will deliver a terrific flavor boost to many a recipe in the coming year…

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COMMENTS:

  1. MarketFan says:

    Hi MM,

    This looks like our green mangoes preserved in brine. Thanks for sharing this procedure. Sounds fairly easy to do. Do they give out a stronger lemon flavor when used in recipes?

    MarketFan

    May 12, 2008 | 12:36 pm

     
  2. Marketman says:

    Marketfan, they have a mellow-er flavor than fresh lemon rind… They do seem less sharp, yet incredibly reminiscent of the lemon fruit…

    May 12, 2008 | 12:41 pm

     
  3. Quillene says:

    I WONDER IF YOU CAN USE THE PICKLING BRINE AFTERWARDS FOR DAING AND OTHER CURED MEATS???

    May 12, 2008 | 2:10 pm

     
  4. wil-b cariaga says:

    Quillene. . . yeah. . . I was thinking of using the brine to season seafood etc. hehe it might work. . . i dunno. . .

    May 12, 2008 | 2:37 pm

     
  5. mojito_drinker says:

    seems interesting… what does this taste like?

    May 12, 2008 | 4:16 pm

     
  6. Toping says:

    Has anyone thought of doing this using kalamansi?

    May 12, 2008 | 8:18 pm

     
  7. brownedngat says:

    Truly add incredible flavor to any tagine recipes. I must say there is no need to boil/blanch the lemons. Try adding cinnamon stick, coriander seeds, peppercorns and bay leaf. I preserve my lemons for at least 30 days and it’ll keep to a year.

    May 13, 2008 | 12:18 am

     
  8. chi says:

    When I went thru a tagine phase, I made a batch of preserved lemons. Only because the recipe was so simple and store-bought were extremely hard to find and soooooo expensive. All the recipes I looked up specified using Meyer lemons which are sweeter and less acidic than the normal lemon. Did you use Meyers MM or did you just use regular lemons? I’m curious because Meyers aren’t always as readily available as the regular lemons.

    The recipe I used also called for optional cinnamon stick, coriander seeds, cloves, peppercorns, and bay leaf. The jar I purchased did have some of these floaters but I think my batch tasted a heck of a lot better than theirs – so there!

    May 13, 2008 | 6:22 am

     
  9. chi says:

    As far as re-using the brine, my cookbook says that the lemons will keep up to a year unrefrigerated and that the pickling juice can be re-used 2 or 3 X over the course of a year. It’s probably safe to assume it can be used for re-cycled for marinating!

    I used up my preserved lemons much quicker than a year so I didn’t get to test the year duration bit.

    May 13, 2008 | 6:34 am

     
  10. linda says:

    MM,try sashimi served with miso and slivered preserved lemon rinds,it’s delicious!

    May 13, 2008 | 11:20 am

     
  11. Marketman says:

    linda, are you referring to some miso paste with that sashimi? with the lemon rind, that sounds brilliant! chi, meyer lemons have a gentler, less acidic taste, a cross between a lemon and a mandarin… so yes, I can see how they would be nice in a preserved form. But I suspect the moroccan versions use non Meyer lemons… Toping, I have seen kalamansi preserved in sugar, but not in salt… hmmm, I wonder if it would work… mojito drinker, it tastes like a smoother but salty less acrid lemon rind. Very intense flavor, but not incredibly bitter as fresh lemon rind would taste. Quillene, I don’t know for sure if the pickling brine can be re-used. But since salt is rather cheap, I would go for a new batch with daing, etc. Unless of course you are aiming for getting the residual lemon flavor onto the fish on purpose…

    May 18, 2008 | 8:00 am

     
  12. adulaamin says:

    I freeze the wedges overnight instead of blanching them. I use kosher rock salt for my preserved lemons.

    May 22, 2008 | 3:15 pm

     
  13. Elise says:

    So are there 10 lemons total – wash 5 and blanch the other 5, or 5 lemons in total?

    Sep 7, 2008 | 12:10 am

     
  14. Marketman says:

    Elise. Buy ten lemons. Blanche five and slice and put in bowl and mix with salt. With the remaining five lemons, you will need juice to completely submerge the brined lemon slices. After you have put the lemon slices in your jar, use enough juice to cover them completely… in the case above, I ended up using 3 lemons worth of juice… hence 8 total. But that depends on the size of your storage vessel.

    Sep 7, 2008 | 6:55 am

     
  15. emsy says:

    MM, question…a friend of mine who’s mother is Moroccan sent me a jar of homemade preserved lemons last Christmas and up to now I only consumed like half of it, but after a month or two they looked darker (as in as brown as, say, capuccino). did your preserved lemons turn brown as well? or should I toss the jar out already?

    Oct 30, 2009 | 1:53 pm

     
  16. Marketman says:

    emsy, I just checked the fridge, and the last remnants of this batch are still there, nearly 18 months old, and they are a honey yellow, not brown or cappucino. While I am not a preserved lemon expert, I wouldn’t be thrilled with brown lemons…

    Oct 30, 2009 | 4:56 pm

     
 

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