You make Moroccan Preserved Lemons. Who knew, right? Well, at work I received more lemons than I have ever seen in one place before and sure you could make lemonade as the old adage goes but what fun is that. I found a recipe for preserving lemons in a brine made from lemon juice.
First you must soak about a dozen lemons in water for three days, changing the water ever day. I’m not really sure why this is important in all honesty.
You will need about 3 quarts of lemon juice. If your like me and happen to have three cases of lemon juice then start zesting those lemons and juicing them. There are so many good uses for lemon zest so don’t throw it away, just keep reading!
Once you have your lemon juice you can mix in any number of things to add some flavor to the brine. The first time I did this I added 10 bay leaves, and 2 tablespoons of coriander seeds. The second time I did this I used a 1/4 cup of dried jalapenos, 1 tablespoon coriander seeds, and 10 bay leaves. You could also try:
- green olives, 2cups cracked
- cardamom pods, 15
- cinnamon sticks, 2 or 3
- whole cloves, 6+
- fennel or cumin seeds, 1 tablespoon each
- peppercorns, 2 dozen
- allspice berries, 2 dozen
- honey, 1/3 cup
After you have chosen what flavors you would like in your brine you need to take a small knife and carefully cut four slits in the lemons, from stem to tip, without cutting all the way through. Then pack salt into each slit, a spoon would work but I used a squirt bottle or ketchup bottle. Place the salted lemons in the brine and weigh them down with a few mugs so that they are all completely covered since anything exposed to the air will rot. Leave your lemons at room temperature for three weeks, shaking them up daily.
Now if your anything like me you will spend those three weeks saying, “what on earth am I going to do with a dozen pickled lemons?” Well, I minced the preserved peel and mixed it into mayonnaise with some oven roasted garlic and served over crab cakes- or in the soup kitchen’s case it was fish cakes, either way a very good day for the guests. The brine I strained and mixed with another 3 quarts of chicken broth for a tangy gravy which was served over turkey and rice. You could also use the brine to make salad dressing, either by mixing it with oil (1:3, oil:brine ratio would be tasty), or mayo. The peel would go nicely with salads, tabbouleh, peppers, green beans, butter, etc.
So there you go! Enjoy, and happy preserving!
Now about all that lemon zest! If you can’t use it right away then you could dry it by spreading it out on paper towels and leaving it in a warm dry spot. Other wise mix 1/3 cup zest with 2 cups of good olive oil, allow it to steep for three weeks and presto lemon oil. Also, at work I made lemon vinegar by combining 1/2 cup of zest with a quart of vinegar and letting it stand at room temperature for a week.
If you used a vegetable peeler to remove the zest from the lemons spread the zest out over a cookie sheet and bake it at 175 for up to 4 hours however, when I tried it it was done in 2 hours.