Preserved lemons are a staple of Moroccan cuisine, adding bright, delicious flavor to a wide range of dishes, from sauces and stews to salad dressings and marinades. It is a great condiment to have in your arsenal, and so easy to make. Simply marinate fresh lemons in additive-free coarse kosher salt for three weeks. Preserved lemons keep in the refrigerator for up to one year. For more information, see Pantry and Produce.
Makes 1 quart
5 to 6 whole medium-small lemons, scrubbed clean
1 1/2 cups (about) kosher salt, divided
2 bushy thyme sprigs
1 bay leaf
4 whole black peppercorns
1/2 cup (about) fresh lemon juice
One 1-quart glass jar
Holding the lemon with the stem end on the cutting board, cut three-fourths of the way through the lemons, forming an X and making sure the lemons are still attached at the stem end. Do not cut all the way through the lemons. Open each lemon slightly and pack the inside of the lemons with about 1/2 cup of salt.
Sprinkle half of the remaining salt into a sterilized 1-quart glass jar. With the cut ends facing downward, pack half of the lemons tightly in the jar. Scatter most of the remaining salt over the lemons and arrange the thyme sprigs, bay leaf and peppercorns in the jar.
Pack the remaining lemons in the jar, pushing them down firmly to release their juices. Sprinkle with any remaining salt. Add enough lemon juice to nearly cover the lemons. Close the jar tightly.
Set the jar aside at room temperature until the lemon rinds soften, at least 3 weeks. After the first 3 days, the lemons should be completely immersed in lemon juice. If not, add more juice to cover the lemons (they must be completely submerged at all times). After 1 week, turn the jar upside down to redistribute the juices. Keep the jar upside down for a day or so, and then turn it over again. Refrigerate the preserved lemons for up to 1 year.
To use, remove a lemon from the jar, discard the seeds, and rinse it thoroughly in water to remove the salt.
Zov’s Kitchen Note: If you want to increase the amount of preserved lemons, just use a larger container, packing in as many lemons as the jar allows. Add enough salt to completely coat the slices. Lemons must be covered with lemon juice at all times or they will turn moldy. Just refrigerate and use whenever a recipe calls for preserved lemons. Try using it in your own recipes. This delicious condiment is so versatile; the possibilities are endless.