Preserved Lemons… A Prelude

I have been aware of preserved lemons for a while, but to the best of my knowledge I had never encountered them. North African cuisine is not something I have a lot of experience with, but the chef recently added a dish to the menu that uses some of the flavors, and it is naturally gluten-free! A couple of major flavor components in this dish are preserved lemons and smoked paprika, and let me tell you it is quite a combination!

Obviously, smoked paprika you are probably not going to make, but you can make preserved lemons if you want.  All you need is salt, lemons, lemon juice and a clean jar to put them in.

First, you want to make sure the lemons are nice and clean.  There are washes you can use, but I don’t think they have been shown to be any more effective than water. Take your knife and cut down about 3/4 of the way through from the bud end. Then turn it 90 degrees, and cut it again. Once you have all of the lemons cut that you want to hold each one over the jar and pour salt into it.  Set them in the jar, and then pour lemon juice over them.  The lemons float, so there isn’t a lot you can do about them bobbing up to the surface.  I kind of swish them around once in a while when I think of it. I don’t know if it helps.  They need to sit for a couple of weeks. Pop your jar in the fridge, and don’t worry about it for two weeks. You’re done with them. They won’t go bad any time soon! The  salt and juice will actually soften the lemons quite a bit.  Also, the pith  will not  be bitter like it  is  in a  fresh  lemon.We will be using some of these very soon, and I am excited about it. Between the smoked paprika I picked up the other day and these lemons there is a ton of flavor to be enjoyed! Of course there will be a bit more to it.

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