Monday, August 6, 2012

Simply Preserved Lemons

Middle Eastern Cuisine has long enjoyed the subtle flavors of preserved lemons.   With lemons being in peak demand at this time of year, here is one of the simple recipes that I have found in my culinary travels to be a winner.  It was adapted from an old issue of Bon Appetit magazine.

Prep Time:  15 mins to assemble, 3 weeks to cure
Ingredients:
8-10 lemons (Meyer lemons are ideal for this preparation)
1/2 cup Kosher salt
Sterilized canning jars
Additional freshly squeezed juice for topping off

Assembly:
1.  Place 2 Tablespoons of salt at the bottom of a sterilized jar.
2.  Prepare the lemons by scrubbing the skins very clean.  Cut any nubs off the ends of the lemons, and then an additional 1/4" off both ends.  With a sharp knife, slice the rind as if you intend to split the lemon into quarters.  Cut through the flesh until about 1/8" from the base, so that the fruit opens like a petal attached to a stem.
3.  Generously salt the interior and exterior of the lemons.
4.  Pack the lemons firmly into the jar, pressing them compactly so that the juice escapes to cover them.  Top off the jar with freshly squeezed juice if necessary.  Cover the topped off jar with another 2 Tablespoons of salt.
5.  Seal the jar snugly and store in a dark place at room temperature for 2 days.  Invert the jar occasionally to enhance the curing process.  After 2 days, place the jar in the refrigerator for 19 more days, continuing to turn the jar over periodically.

Lemons are ready to use when the rinds are softened.  Extra flavor can be infused in your lemons as well!  Cinnamon sticks, lavender, coriander, or fennel can be added to the jars before sealing. Before adding the finished lemons to your recipes, rinse the preserved fruit under cool water to remove excess salt and seeds.

Jar will keep in refrigerator up to 6 months.

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