Spiced Preserved Lemons

I never thought I’d start preserving citrus on a regular basis… it seemed like one of those things that I would try on occasion but it wouldn’t be a favorite. But preserved citrus if one of those FAB things that I can’t do without. I never really knew how versatile it is and the depth of flavor is out of this world. Leave out the spices for a basic, go-with-anything recipe.[sg_popup id=”1″ event=”onload”][/sg_popup]

Okie dokie, let’s get started:

Ingredients

Enough lemons to fill a quart jar (+ more to fill jar with juice if needed)
1/2 – 3/4 cup canning, sea or kosher salt
1 large or 2 small bay leaves
10 (or so) black peppercorns
1 1/4 teaspoons whole clove

Start with a sterilized lid and jar. Let it thoroughly dry out. You know me, once things start to look past their prime I start to think of ways to use them up all at once. That’s why this works so well. Everybody else is going to say “use only the freshest lemons you can find” and I say blah, blah, blah. No wasting. I mix in fresh with not so fresh and it still works well.

Wash and dry the lemons and slice the ends off.

Measure out the salt. You may actually use more, but this is just to make sure that at least a 1/2 cup will end up in the jar. Whatever salt ends up on the cutting board should get scooped up and tossed into the jar.

Slice and salt the lemons, making a criss-cross through the center, but not cutting all the way through. Just enough to open them up. Fill with salt.

Any combination of spices will do… a cinnamon stick, allspice berries… whatever you have try it! (The original recipe called for cardamom pods. See what I mean?)

Add a little salt to the bottom of the jar and a few cloves. Add one or two lemons to the jar and add more of the salt, clove, pepper and a bay leaf. Repeat.

Press the lemons down as you go; packing them in tight. It’s the pressing that will help them release the juice that helps preserve them.

Don’t forget to label ’em! These will be ready in about a month.

You need to give the jar a shake once a day for the first few days, and then every 3 or 4 days after that (or whenever you think about it). The jar should be at least 3/4 full of juice by day 3. You can squeeze in more juice if not.

Store them in a cool and dark place. After the month is up they should be ready to use. Keep them around for up to a year.

To use them, you have to rinse off the lemons. Most recipes call for the peel only. (Discard the pith.) Add to sauces and soups for a wonderful punch of flavor. Lay on top of fish prior to baking. Tuck under the skin of a whole chicken prior to roasting. Use in marinades or vinaigrette. Use them in a Moroccan or Greek dish. Slice into thin strips to top a salad… the options are endless! Enjoy!

Tip: Don’t be tempted to use table salt, it’s too harsh and doesn’t preserve well because it isn’t pure enough.

Tip: The pulp can be used, just know that it is saltier and less lemony than using the peel. Use it prior to salting your dish because you may be able to get away with none or less salt added to your recipe. The pulp is great in Moroccan and Greek recipes that usually require things like olives and capers to salt the food. The pulp may also be used to replace an olive in a martini!

Tip: Do this with any citrus with or without the added spices. Or change up the spices as you see fit.

Update: After a couple of weeks the lemons softened and juiced up a bit more. I added the juice from 2 lemons, pressed on them at least once and added another sprinkle of salt… just play it by ear and you’ll be fine.