Friday, 20 June 2014

Preserved Lemons

Preserved Lemons are used from North Africa to India.  You can use the pulp but most recipes call for the skin.

You need to have a clean sterilised 2 litre jar ready to pack you lemons into so get his ready before doing anything else.  Thin skinned lemons work best for preserving but work with what you have got.  I have even used this recipe for Tahitian limes which are quite lemony when finished.  Both the rind and flesh sweeten during the pickling process.

Preserved Lemons

8 - 12 Small Lemons
310 g Rock Salt
500 ml lemon Juice (From Additional Lemons)
1/2 Tsp Black Peppercorns
1 Bay leaf
Olive Oil

Scrub your lemons gently under warm running water with a soft bristle brush.  Cut into quarters or if you only have large lemons cut them into eighths.
Sprinkle a couple of spoons of salt into the bottom of the jar then add a layer of lemon segments followed by more salt and then more lemons.  Continue this pattern packing lots of salt around the lemon segments and packing the lemons as tightly as you can.
When the jar is full add the peppercorns, bay leaf and remaining salt.  Then fill all the way to the top with the lemon juice.
Seal the jar and leave for 6 weeks in a cool dark place.  Each week you need to turn the jar upside down and give it a good shake before returning it to your cupboard.  The lemons need to stay below the juice so you may need to top it up with extra lemon juice but at this stage you do not need to fill to the top of the jar.
The liquid will be cloudy initially but will clear by the fourth week.
To test if the lemons are preserved check the colour of the pith.  If it is still white they need more time so reseal your jar and leave another week or two.  The lemons will be soft skinned and the pith the colour of the skin when they are ready.

Once the lemons are preserved cover the brine with a layer of olive oil.  Top up the olive oil each time you remove some lemon to use.
Refrigerate after opening.

Using Preserved Lemon

When using preserved lemon skin you need to remove all of the flesh of the lemon and then give the remaining skins a rinse under the tap.

You then need to remove all of the pith to leave just the preserved skin behind.  This is easiest to do by flattening the lemon out on your chopping board and using a knife on its side cutting flat across the board as well.
When you are left with just the skin you can dice it finely and add it to your dish.

There are some dishes that use the pulp so check your recipe.  Generally if it just says preserved lemon they mean the skin and not the pulp as well.

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