Preserved lemons are a glorious treat! Their mellow yet sophisticated flavor enhances fish and roast chicken dishes, as well as cut the richness of heavy winter soups and stews. They can brighten all manner of salads, spice up your dips, and even make the most simple pasta dish shine. They’re truly a must have in the kitchen.
Preserved lemons are common in Indian and North African cuisine where their intense lemon flavor accentuates their many tagine dishes. Holistically, they can be used for stomach ailments and cutting through sticky congestion. Just toss a slice in some tea and you’re good to go!
The Wonders of Moroccan Preserved Lemons and How to Make Them!
I came across my first preserved lemon while at work believe it or not! I was helping a woman locate these “preserved lemons” and truth be told, I had no idea what she was talking about, I had never heard of such a thing. Oh, how ignorant I was! I told her so and she balked with complete and utter disbelief! “Oh, surely you MUST have one now!” She exclaimed. And so off we went to where I expected we might find them, and lo and behold, there they were atop a glass display, surrounded by cured meats and gourmet cheeses sparkling in the largest jar I’ve ever seen.
“Oh yes, those are it! Moroccan preserved lemons! Give me 3 of the largest ones you have, make sure the rinds are good and thick!”
I watched the girl behind the counter reach elbow deep into the jar to fish out the 3 best lemons. There weren’t many left. Clearly, these things were popular! The woman asked to have a sliver cut off of one for me to try.
Let me just say that for that wonderful instant, I was transported somewhere else. These things are amazing, and I’m going to teach you how to make them.
How to Make Morrocan Preserved Lemons
Here’s What You’ll Need
1 sterilized jar (I use quart sized jars)
About 2lbs of large thick-skinned lemons ( I have also reead that meyer lemons work really well and have an amazing flavor)
A large container of high-quality sea salt (do NOT use table salt – it isn’t even remotely the same)
1 TB black peppercorns
red pepper flakes (optional)
1 bay leaf
Loving Preparation – Preserved Lemons Recipe
1. Scrub your lemons clean and cut off the ends where the stem grows (don’t cut off too much, that’s precious rind!)
2. Meanwhile, sterilize your jar. You can place it in the oven for 15 min or carefully pour boiling water over it, just don’t crack it!
3. Cut the lemons into fourths. Squeeze the juice into the jar and then plop the lemon pieces into a nice big bowl
4. Keep track of how many lemons you’re using because you will use 1 TB of sea salt per lemon (I used about 8, but it all depends on the size of your lemons)
5. Once you have cut, squeezed, and salted a few lemons (make sure they are well coated, get every nook and cranny!), throw in the bay leaf, 1/3 of the peppercorns, and a small sprinkle of red pepper flakes into the bottom of the jar
6. Start stuffing in your lemons. Really smoosh them in there! Be sure to get rid of any air bubbles as you go
8. Continue to carefully wedge in lemon pieces until you have about a half inch of space from the top of the jar
9. At this point, really make sure there are no air bubbles (these can cause mold to grow)
10. Make sure all of the lemons are completely submerged. Add more lemon juice if needed
11. Wipe the rim of your jar carefully, screw on the top, label, and let them ferment for 3-4 weeks in a cool dark place. No need to shake!
12. Preserved lemons will keep for at least 2 years even at room temperature
[yumprint-recipe id=’73’]These pictures below are how I make a smaller batch of preserved lemons.
How to Use Preserved Lemons
Once you have waited 3-4 weeks for your lovely preserved lemons to ferment, you can finally use them!
It’s really easy, just fish out a preserved lemon wedge with a clean utensil, scrape the flesh from the rind and discard, then rinse the rind in fresh spring water. Chop the rind into fine pieces or not so fine pieces and add it to your favorite Chicken Tagine recipe (or every other recipe for that matter!)
Another way to use and enjoy preserved lemons is to toss the whole batch (sans bay leaf after the lemons have fermented) into a very clean food processor and blend it into a puree. You can then very easily use it in dressings, stews, tagines, soups, you name it – without having to chop anything.
Have you ever made Morrocan preserved lemons before? Please share in the comments!
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