The sun came out yesterday morning…. for the first time in what seems like weeks. It was fleeting, but it was there.
Constant, unrelenting rain, wind and days when it barely gets light can take it’s toll. So I decided to prepare. I decided to inject some sunshine into the wet winter that has descended on my bit of Scottish countryside.
Preserved lemons aren’t just easy to make, they can inject a little bit of sunshine into a whole array of dishes. Used extensively in North African cooking, once preserved, the lemons mellow and lose their tartness. They’re fabulous in pasta dishes, salads, stews and tagines, grain dishes and rice and marinades as well as with grilled or BBQ’d meat and fish. In fact they’re so amazing you can add them to pretty much anything!
All you need is a sterilised jar, some lemons, a few tablespoons of salt and whole herbs and spices of your choice (but not essential). A little bit of slicing and sprinkling and a matter of minutes later you’ll have a very attractive jar of lemons that in 3-4 weeks will be ready to go. I’ll be following up with a few simple recipes once they’re ready, but in the meantime here’s what I did.
Ingredients and Equipment
1 ltr kilner jar, sterilised
3 tbsp salt (plus extra), I used kosher but sea or rock salt is fine
Unwaxed Lemons (I managed to cram 8 into my jar)
A few bay leaves (entirely optional)
Wash the lemons really well and cut a cross into the base of each one, almost all the way through but not quite.
Then, over a bowl, sprinkle the cavity of each lemon with a good teaspoon of salt.
Then pack the lemons as tightly as you can into the jar, adding bay leaves as you go, and sprinkle over any remaining salt. You want as little empty space in the jar as possible. At this point I usually add an extra big pinch of salt for good luck.
Seal the jar and leave at room temperature for 3 – 4 weeks. I usually leave them sitting somewhere I can see them every day. The salt added to the lemons will produce a brine and you’ll notice this liquid appear in the jar. If you’ve packed the jar nice and tight, the liquid naturally produced by the lemons should be enough to cover them completely. If after a couple of days the lemons still aren’t covered, top up with lemon juice.
Once ready, remove the amount you’ll need for your recipe, rinse off the brine and scrape off any pulp, you don’t eat this bit. Then use the rind in whatever you fancy. Once the jar has been opened store it in the fridge.
Your lemons should be good for 6 months or more. Stick a ribbon around the neck of the jar and you’ve got a nice gift too!