Preserved Lemons



I love citrus. Yet, I was still hesitant to try preserving lemons.
Would the salty sour ruin my citrus? That fresh lemon scent so perfect for summery drinks and puckery desserts was, making it tough to imagine the final flavour.
I didn’t care. It’s citrus season, so when I saw the huge bag of glowing lemony goodness, I knew I’d be overwhelmed by tea and desserts, so giving this time honoured tradition wouldn’t be too tough to try.

Long before the rush of the Holidays set in I chopped and salted — and waited. Only hearing of the magic of preserved lemons, I had to wait until, and perhaps a little early, just this week. The flavour was of mellowed lemons, with a hint of caper. I combined it with a traditional spice mixture of cumin & cinnamon for a Moroccan tangine.
But first, you have to make the lemons:

PRESERVED LEMONS

6 Lemons
1  Cup Coarse Sea Salt
3 – 4 Bay Leaves (optional)
3 – 4  1/2 Pint Jars

Thoroughly rinse lemons and give them a good scrub.
Trim each end from the lemons and quarter lengthwise into wedges.
Roll each wedge into the salt to coat evenly and place into each jar until full, squishing as necessary and extracting juice.
Push bay leaf into jar, if desired.
Using another lemon wedge, squeeze to immerse prepared lemons in juice.
Seal jar and store in refrigerator at least 3 weeks or up to 6 months.
In the first few days, rotate and tip jars to disperse salt and make sure everything is submerged.
Test after about 3 weeks. The skins should be softened and flavourful after rinsing.

Preserving The Summer


Wouldn’t it just be the way, when I was confronted with this and a box of dusty, old canning jars:
“I’m presuming I can finally recycle these?”

We were down in the basement purging of it’s overwhelming accumulation to free up movement to the laundry and the like. By the dust streaks, one could obviously conclude I hadn’t done much in the way of preserving for some time. As fate would have it, upon conceding to the disposal, my neighbour showed up with more jars. Then the strawberry season was heavenly, peach baskets were sweet and overflowing and the Mennonite farmer at the market, had the crispest, greenest basket of miniature cucumbers I’d seen.
They were calling my name – I swear to you, they were.

As far as I can remember back I’ve been a bit of a pickle connoisseur. Kosher Dills, Polski Ogorkis, Baby Dills, Cornichons… I even remember the market unveiling of Vlasic’s extra crunchy pickles.
Man, what a breakthrough.
I can clearly recall a monstrosity of a pickle found, I believe Strubs. Being about six, it was probably the size of my foot, I kid you not. This of course encouraged me to dig this, the largest pickle I’d ever seen, out from the jar. Besides, if anyone was going to go down as conquering this cuke, it would be me. Slowly but steadily, I devoured the soft, briney interior. My temporary embalming only ceased by my bedtime and the numbness in my mouth. I even recall carefully wrapping that treasure, carefully, and storing it away for morning.

Since then, the best pickles ever were from the same family who sold me the cucumbers this year to begin with. Even with pickles, good ingredients are still important. Size is also important, as I’ve long since abandoned volume for numbers. A perfect pickle is garlicky, dilly, crisp, small and must applaud all grilled cheese sandwiches they accompany flawlessly.
I’m just beginning to be able to open my stock of pickles and enjoy the harvest. Preserving is great fun. It’s really not the mess you’d imagine it to be. Plus a payoff that continues months on, is so worth it.

If you’d like to read of other savory preserved summers, visit The Passionate Cook for a round up of sealed greatness.