I always have at least one jar of preserved lemons made & ready to use; I use them extensively, especially in Tagines and Maghreb, (North African) cuisine. They are also wonderful when diced very finely and added to a whole chicken, or lamb for roasting. Just a small amount can enhance all types of daube, stew, casserole or crock-pot cooking. These are very easy to make & add a splash of colour to your pantry. DO try use unwaxed and untreated lemons wherever possible.
- Soak the lemons in water for 2 to 3 days, changing the water 2 - 3 times, once a day.
- Pat the lemons dry and quarter them from the top to just above the bottom, about 1/2" - leaving them in one piece.
- Open up the lemons slightly, and sprinkle the sea salt onto the cut flesh - reshape them afterwards, so they look whole again.
- Place half the remaining salt in the bottom of a large Sterilising jar; I use 1.5 litre Kilner jar for this amount.
- Pack the lemons in and add the bay leaf and spices amongst the lemons.
- Add the remaining salt & press down to release the lemon juice from the lemons.
- Pour over the lemon juice - it's difficult to say exactly how much, but the last time I made these, I used about 500mls of unsweetened lemon juice; and in the past, I have used between 6 & 8 fresh lemons, squeezed - depending on the juiciness & size of lemons!
- Seal and leave for at least one month; these will last up to 6-10 months in ideal conditions, dark & cool.
- When you come to use the lemons, make sure you rinse them thoroughly beforehand.
- IDEAS: Chop them up finely and add to baked fish dishes; put a whole lemon in to the cavity of a chicken to roast - take it out when cooked, and chop up finely and add to any gravy or sauce; Cut into quarters and add to tagines & stews; finely dice a lemon and add to sauces and stocks for stews & crockpot recipes -- the list is endless!