-Jeannette Northern, guest blogger
My dear friend, Diana, gifted me with a jar of preserved lemons this spring. They’ve been a favorite in her family for as long as she can remember. She has her own Meyer lemon tree and saves jars for when she’s ready to make up a batch to share with friends. Preserved lemons are great to use on fish, chicken, rice dishes or any favorite veggies. Broiled, grilled or sauteed, this exotic salty, citrus condiment really enhances the flavor of a meal. I am amazed at the burst of lemon that accompanies whatever I add them to — absolutely delicious and no need to add extra salt while cooking.
Preserved lemons are just one way to utilize the abundant goodness of a fruit that is plentiful nearly year round in California. Lemons are loaded with vitamin C and flavonoids to fight off colds and boost your immune system. Add lemon to your drinking water every morning for a natural way to cleanse your liver and skin. Lemons also have an alkalizing effect, balancing the body’s pH.
You can use jars of any size but the following recipe is for a quart sized jar. You’ll need about 12 Meyer lemons (medium size) and about 1/2 cup of salt. You can try different varieties of lemons but the skin of the Meyer works best. Use a couple of the lemons for extra juice to top each jar off. As for the salt, my friend uses Kosher salt but many recipes recommend sea salt.
- Place 2 tbsp of salt in the bottom of a clean jar.
- Trim the end of each lemon being careful not to cut into the flesh.
- Starting from the tip, cut them in quarters but don’t cut all the way down. Keep the lemon attached at the base. Pry the lemon open and sprinkle salt all over the exposed flesh.
- Place the lemons into the jar, mashing them down to release the juice. Add more lemon juice if needed. They should be submerged in juice.
- Top the jar off with another 2 Tbsp of salt and seal the jar. Let it sit for a few days at room temperature turning it upside down from time to time to spread salted juice throughout.
- Put it in the refrigerator for about 3 weeks to let the rinds soften before using them. Periodically mix the lemons by turning them over a few times.
- When you’re ready to use the lemons you can rinse them to remove some of the salt and discard the seeds. I prefer to use them straight from the jar as I like the salty flavor they bring to a dish.
- After the preserved lemons are refrigerated, they are good for about six months.
Some people add spices to the preserving jars. Bay leaves and peppercorn are excellent, and you can also use a cinnamon stick and/or cloves, as well as coriander seeds. Experiment to find your favorite combination!