Monday, December 28, 2009

Preserved Lemons

A sad event happened with the frost that came a couple of weeks ago, all our new baby lemons died. Our tree was chuck full of them and I had plans for fresh squeezed lemonade, lemoncello and preserved lemons. These plans are all gone now however, and I will have to survive on store bought (aka not free and not organic) lemons. I will be on the look out for old Christmas lights however, because I have since learned that if you run a string of those through your tree and turn them on when there is a chance of frost, the heat might save your citrus.

I had also been planning a post for a while now explaining how to make preserved lemons. Although I won't be making myself any home grown ones for a while, I did give several people preserved lemons for Christmas so I will go ahead and explain how I made them and how to use them.

Preserved Lemons

1 medium sized glass jar with a tight fitting lid (don't use metallic lids unless the underside is coated with plastic)
8 lemons( or however many it takes to fill your jar)
4 coriander seeds
1 bay leaf
1 Cinnamon stick
lots of coarse sea salt

1) Scrub all your lemons really well and pat dry. You'll be eating the skin only so you want them very clean.

2) Cut off the hard ends of the lemon. Make a large cut in the lemon by slicing lengthwise, leaving about a quarter of an inch on both ends uncut, then make a similar cut in the middle of the lemon along the width, so you've cut an x into the lemon.

3) Give the lemon a gentle squeeze over your jar to get rid of excess juice and make stuffing the lemon easier.

4) Stuff each lemon with about 1 tablespoon of coarse sea salt and place in jar. After you've finished each layer of lemons in the jar, press down on the to help more juice come out. Continue to layer the lemons until the jar is full. I found the jars I used at Cost Plus for just $3.00.

5) Add the bay leaf, cinnamon stick and coriander seeds to the jar and press down one more time.
6)Once a day for the next five days you will need to open the jar and press down the lemons to get more juice out. If the lemons are not submerged after the fifth day, then juice a couple extra lemons and add the liquid to the jar.

7) Let the jar marinate in the fridge for one month and then use. It will stay good in the fridge for up to six months.

How to us Preserved Lemons

"Remove lemons from the liquid and rinse. Split in half and scrape out the pulp. Slice the lemon peels into thin strips or cut into small dices. You may wish to press the pulp through a sieve to obtain the flavorful juice, which can be used for flavoring as well, then discard the innards. "
-David Lebovitz

Preserved Lemons are used in many middle eastern and Indian dishes but can also be used to flavor basic steamed veggie dishes.
There are also many ways to season preserved lemons and recipes can be found both for making different kinds of preserved lemons, and dishes to use them in with a basic google search. Here are a few I found particularly interesting.

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