Contributing Monkie Vanessa Sherwood
Published on January 8, 2008
Preserved lemons are my new ‘it’ ingredient. I made a few batches and gave them away as gifts around Christmas time and lately I’ve been inspired to find new and creative uses for them. Traditionally, they are used in Moroccan cuisine, as a condiment and in tagines and couscous. I think they lend themselves particularly well with all of the Spring ‘greens’, like artichokes, asparagus, peas, etc, etc. My favorite restaurant in Chicago- Green Zebra- has a salad on the menu made with shaved artichokes, preserved lemon, parmesan and red pepper foam that I just had to try last time I was there.
Searching online, you’ll find tons of ideas. Alice Waters of Chez Panisse makes a relish out of preserved lemons, olives, shallots and herbs- great for the summer BBQ season. People are using them as toppings for pizza, in martinis, and even in lemony desserts. So get creative! And if you come up with something good, let me know!
To make your own, you’ll need organic lemons (you can use Meyer or regular ones), sea salt or kosher salt, a glass jar, and some patience. Here is some text on how to make them from ‘Chez Panisse Fruit’, written by Alice Waters:
Moroccan Preserved Lemons
“Our favorite lemons to preserve are the thinner-skinned, sweeter Meyer lemons, but Eureka lemons work equally well. Preserved lemons make a wonderful condiment that adds a uniquely Moroccan flavor wherever lemon is called for. To make them, all that is required is lemons and salt. Additive-free kosher salt is especially recommended in this recipe because it seems to dissolve more quickly.
Wash the lemons well. While holding them over a plate to catch the juice, make four deep longitudinal cuts, evenly spaced around the lemon, effectively dividing it into four sections attached at the ends. Don’t make the cuts so long (going into the ends) that the lemons separates into pieces; you want to keep the lemons whole. (Alternatively, cut the lemons into quarters, leaving the attached only at the stem end.) Pack the cuts generously with salt. Put a couple of tablespoons of salt in the bottom of a jar and pack the lemons in layers, sprinkling a thin layer of salt between each layer of lemons. Push the lemons down firmly to pack them tightly and to help express some of their juice. Finish with a final layer of salt. Pour any juices that collected on the plate when the lemons were cut. Cover the jar tightly. Leave at room temperature for a few days, monitoring the level of liquid in the jar. The lemons should be submerged in juice after a few days. If they are not, add more lemon juice. The lemons will be ready to eat in a few weeks and will keep for up to a year. They do not absolutely require refrigeration, but we always keep them in the refrigerator at the restaurant.” Chez Panisse Fruit by Alice Waters (Harper Collins, May, 2002)