Following a recent seafood photo shoot for DIY Weddings Magazine I found myself with a bunch of fresh lemons that needed to be used quickly. What an excellent excuse to make Preserved Lemons! If you’ve never cooked with preserved lemons, I urge you to try them. They add a unique and bright flavor that is indescribable. Preserved lemons may be purchased on line or at gourmet specialty stores — but why would you want to buy them when you can make your own?
8-10 lemons, preferably Meyer*
Extra fresh-squeezed lemon juice, to cover
Sterilized quart canning jar
Place 2 tablespoons kosher salt in bottom of sterilized quart jar. One by one, prepare lemons in the following way. Scrub skins very clean. Cut off any protruding stems from the lemons and cut ¼-inch off the tip of each lemon. Cut the lemons as if you were going to cut them in half lengthwise, starting at the tip, but do not cut all the way through. Keep the lemon attached at the base. Make another cut in a similar manner so that the lemon is quartered, but still attached at the base. Pry the lemons open and generously sprinkle salt over the insides and outsides of the lemons. Pack the lemons in the jar, squishing them down so that the juice is extracted and the lemon juice rises to the top of the jar. Fill up the jar with lemons. Make sure the salted lemons are completely covered with lemon juice. Add more fresh-squeezed lemon juice if necessary. Top with a tablespoon of salt. Seal the jar tightly and let sit at room temperature for 30 days. Turn the jar upside down daily. Lemon rinds will soften and be ready to use after 30 days. Refrigerate preserved lemons for up to 6 months. *If Meyer lemons are unavailable, regular lemons will work just as well.
The writer owns Catering by Debbi Covington and is the author of two cookbooks, Celebrate Everything! and Dining Under the Carolina Moon. Debbi’s website address is www.cateringbydebbicovington.com. She may be reached at 525-0350 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.