Recipe – Preserved Lemons

Preserved Lemons
This Moroccan specialty is super easy to make, a great pantry staple to spice up many dishes and a wonderful homemade gift. It’s a great way to use up excess fruit from a backyard lemon tree; or wait until lemons are in season (and inexpensive) then make a big jar that will keep you supplied for ages. Traditionally only the rind is used, with the salty flesh discarded. However, I like to add the flesh to the cavity of a chicken before roasting it.

Makes 20 pieces

Ingredients
  • 5 large, thick-skinned lemons
  • ¼ cup rock sea salt
  • 5 black peppercorns
  • 5 coriander seeds
  • 1 dried bay leaf 
Method
  1. Scrub lemon with a plastic scourer to remove any wax.
  2. Starting from the stem end, cut almost all the way through into quarters, leaving about 1cm intact at the base.
  3. Pack salt onto the exposed flesh then reshape.
  4. Pack into a sterilised jar, pressing down to release some juice and sprinkling pepper and coriander between layers. Tuck the bay leaf in somewhere too.
  5. Top with boiling water so that lemons are completely submerged.
  6. Store in a cool, dark place for 30 days, shaking or turning the jar frequently. 

Use your preserved lemons in these delicious dishes: Harissa-rubbed Roast Quail with Lentil Salad ~ Roast Chicken with Preserved Lemon ~ Spice-rubbed Lamb Backstrap ~ Lamb Kefta & Egg Tagine.

FAQ

What do preserved lemons taste like?
Preserved lemons have a unique savoury, mildly lemony flavour and a silken texture that can’t be reproduced with fresh lemons or lemon juice.
How long do preserved lemons last?
As long as they are kept covered in their lemony brine, preserved lemons last almost indefinitely. It’s not essential, but I prefer to keep the jar refrigerated once it’s been opened.
Which lemons are best for making preserved lemons?
As it’s mainly the skin that’s used – larger thick-skinny lemons give the best result. In Morocco fragrant-skinned doqq and tart boussera lemons are used.
How do you use preserved lemons?
Recipes usually say to rinse the lemon rind, but I often don’t and just watch the amount of additional salt I add to the dish. They sometimes have a harmless lacy, white coating on the skin which I do rinse off. Most commonly only the rind of the lemon is used, with the flesh discarded … but I put inside the cavity of a chicken while it’s roasting for a great lemony flavour.
Can you reuse the liquid from preserving lemons?
When you finish a jar of preserved lemons, you can reuse the salty, lemony pickling juice two or three times over the course of a year.
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