Whilst I have often bought lovely little jars of preserved lemons from the North African influenced delis of Porto Maurizio, I had never thought of making them myself until my friend Katie Venner from Tracebridge Fermenteria in Somerset came to stay last year and gave me a lesson. I am now addicted.
I have experimented adding bay leaves, coriander and black peppercorns. There are many ways to preserve a lemon, some people do them whole, some cut them in to pieces, so experiment till you find your favourite method.
Our Moroccan builder Fayaaz told me that the traditional way was to cut the lemons in quarters leaving them attached at the top where they have been picked from the tree. He also advised sterilizing a heavy stone as a weight to press them down for the first four days and to add a layer of olive oil as a seal before the jar is closed.
- Sea Salt
- Herbs & spices to taste
- Step 1
- Give the lemons a good wash and pat dry and then cut into quarters leaving them attached at the top so that they open up like a flower. Stuff each lemon with plenty of sea salt (one tablespoon of salt per lemon as a rough guide).
- Step 2
- Squeeze them closed and put them into a sterilized jar pressing them down so they are all squashed in as tightly as possible leaving no trapped air between the lemons. Leave them in a cool dark place for 4 days and you will see that the juices start to be released.
- Step 3
- Press the lemons down in the jar again and add fresh lemon juice so that they are entirely immersed and there are no air bubbles. At this juncture you can add peppercorns, bay leaves, coriander, star anise or other flavourings to suit yourself.
- Step 4
- Seal the jar and leave them for at least a month in a cool dark place - if you can resist them leave them for longer as the flavour just gets better. Before you use them rinse of any residue of sea salt.
- Step 5