Earlier in the week there was a lull in the rain, so I scooted outside quickly and nabbed a bunch of Meyer lemons from the tree. Meyer lemons are the best lemons in my opinion - they're fragrant, sweet and extra-juicy. In fact, they're actually a cross between a Mandarin orange and a regular lemon. They originated in China and were brought over in the early 1900's by Frank Nicholas Meyer...hence the name, "Meyer" lemon.
Anyhow, I've been dying to try some Moroccan recipes for some time now but a lot of them call for "preserved lemons." Turns out, you don't need to spend big bucks at a gourmet store; preserved lemons are super easy to make. All you need are some lemons, Kosher salt and an air-tight jar. Preserved lemons can be used in many other dishes besides Moroccan - you can dice some up and sautée it with veggies, season your fish with it or just use it to add some zest to side dishes like quinoa or couscous. It's pretty versatile!
8-9 Meyer Lemons (use unsprayed "natural" lemons, since you're eating the peel)
1-1.5 cups of Kosher Salt
Clean, Air Tight Glass Jar (the kind with a glass lid & latch works best for this recipe)
- Scrub, rinse and dry the lemons well.
- Slice off the tip of the stem end so that you can see the pith (but not the flesh).
- Cut the lemons in quarters or a "X", lengthwise but leave it attached at the base (so that the lemon opens up...it kind of looks like a flower when you do this...see below)
- Pack about a tablespoon of Kosher salt into the inside of each lemon. (Schmear it on all the exposed flesh.)
- Cover the bottom of the jar with Kosher salt.
- Start packing the lemons into the jar firmly, sprinkle salt in between the layers. The lemons will juice some, that's okay-- you want them to. Take the clown car approach and get as many as you can in there.
- Take the leftover lemons and squeeze their juice into the jar. Make sure that the top lemons are covered in juice. We want all the lemons submerged.
- Set the jar aside (at room temperature) and for the next 24 hours, turn it upside down every so often so that the ingredients mix.
- After the 1st day, store the jar in the fridge. Continue to turn the jar every so often so the lemons, juice and salt mix. After 4-5 weeks, the lemons are ready to go.
- To use: Take the lemon out of the jar and rinse it thoroughly. You want all the juice and salt off. Scrape out the pulp and use the peel in your recipe (dicing it finely or cutting it into thin strips works best). You can also run the pulp through a sieve and use the juice to season dishes as well.
* Preserved lemons can be kept in the fridge for about 6 months.