Preserved lemons are very common in Mediterranean cuisine, particularly that of Morocco. Most recipes require at least thirty days’ preparation, but this one yields lemons suitable to use after about five days. Usually the lemons are preserved whole, but we slice them very thin, which speeds up the process. If you can get them, Meyer lemons, with their more delicate skin and flavor, work extremely well. Meyer lemons are generally only in season in winter. Oranges can also be preserved using the same recipe. Sometimes Neal adds a very small amount of saffron threads to the brine.
For this recipe, a Japanese salad/pickle press is handy. It’s a small and very inexpensive tool that simply applies pressure to compress ingredients and keep them submerged in liquid for preserving or pickling. A plastic bucket with a disk is connected to the lid, which is lowered onto the ingredients. If you don’t have one, place the ingredients in a bowl or other container and find a plate that fits neatly inside on top of the ingredients, while still allowing the liquids to rise up the sides. You can weight down the plate with something heavy that you don’t mind having immersed in the same preserving liquid A large jar full of liquid would work well. When you set this whole contraption aside, it should be covered with a large dishtowel or cheesecloth to allow the ingredients to breathe.
- 7 to 8 lemons, Meyer lemons if available
- 2 cups freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2 cups filtered water
- 2 tablespoons sea salt
- Salad press (optional)
Cut the stems off the lemons and then cut the lemons crosswise into very thin slices. Remove the seeds, and place the lemon slices in the salad press or other container.
In a blender, combine the lemon juice, water, and salt and blend well.
Pour this liquid over the lemons and apply pressure with the salad press top, or using another method, so that the ingredients are completely submerged in liquid. Set this aside to sit at room temperature for a minimum of 5 days.
Store the lemons immersed in the preserving liquid in a jar in the refrigerator If the lemons are too salty for your taste, you can rinse them well before using, or drain some or all of the brine and store the lemons in fresh water.
Nutritional information is based on 24 servings.