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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Mom/Preservationist...preserved lemons

So the other day I realized that I had seven lemons in my fruit basket. (More on why coming up soon.) I was trying to think of what to do with them all and it hit me, preserved lemons. If you've never had preserved lemons before, they are a staple condiment and flavoring in Moroccan cuisine. They are mellow, lemony, salty and add a certain something that is hard to duplicate. Luckily, the process to make them is very easy. I researched several recipes and settled on one from "The Big Book of Preserving the Harvest." By Carol W. Costenbader.

5 small lemons-organic if possible (I used 3 large ones)
2/3 cups canning salt
1 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup olive oil

1 air tight glass jar with lid

Step 1: Scrub the lemons clean and dry them. I had conventional lemons, not organic, so I soaked them in a mix of warm water and white vinegar to help get the wax off of them before scrubbing them.

Step 2: Juice some of them. You need approximately 1 cup of lemon juice.
Now if I had been thinking ahead, I would have zested these lemons and frozen the zest for another use, but as I was trying to document this project and wrangle kids, I forgot. Instead I just chose the three ugliest of the lemons and juiced them. Three big lemons gave me exactly one cup of juice.

Step 3: Cut the remaining lemons into quarters and place the wedges in the jar.

 I cut the ends off before cutting them into wedges so they look prettier and fit better into the jar. I started with a pint jar but it became quickly clear that I needed a quart jar instead.

Step 4: Pour the salt into the jar. Now the recipe calls for canning salt but I just used kosher salt that I whizzed in the magic bullet for a few seconds. The only real difference between the two is that canning salt has smaller grains that dissolve quickly in hot or cold liquid. Either is fine, just don't use iodized table salt.

Put the lid on and give the jar a good shaking. Here you can see the salt coating the lemon wedges.

Step 5: Pour in the lemon juice.

Step 6: Put the lid back on and shake it up until a good portion of the salt has dissolved. It won't all dissolve yet and that is ok.

Now store the jar on the counter at room temperature for 7-10 days. Be sure to give it a good shakeup every day to get brine over all the lemons. At the end of the ten days, pour in the olive oil so everything in the jar is covered and store in the fridge. This isn't a hot processed canning project so you can reuse an old canning lid, just make sure the lid and jar are clean and sanitized before you begin.
As you can see, I just started my lemons yesterday, so I can't report on the success of this recipe yet. I will report back in two weeks with the results and a couple of recipes to use these yummy lemons.


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