Let’s see…recipe number 5, or is this 6. Hard to keep track. All I know is that we have a long road to travel. I was just looking at the first of two large recipe caches. We won’t run out of menus and recipes to discover for a long time. This is a huge adventure. Hang on to your butts! I’ll throw something out there, and you can comment on the results. Or you throw something out there and I’ll comment!
Preserved lemons are hard to find and expensive to buy, but so easy and inexpensive to make. They’re traditional in stews and soups, but also great with olives, vegetables, garlic, seafood, veal, lamb, chicken, rice, with butter in potatoes, risottos, couscous–any dishes where fresh lemon zest and/or juice would be used. I combine a half-cup or so of plain non-fat Greek yogurt (Fage brand—YUM!) with some finely diced preserved lemon, cucumber, green onion, radishes, olives, pepperoncini, parsley, cilantro, oregano, and garlic powder, and have it for lunch with multi-grain crackers and tea.
I make preserved lemons when I simply can’t resist the gorgeous big bags of lemons at Sam’s Club or Costco. As with any other item that you will can or preserve, you want to use the best fruit you can find, without bruises or blemishes.
All you use is lemons and 1/2 cup to 1 cup of canning salt.
Wash a 1-quart wide-mouth canning jar in hot soapy water, then wash 5 to 7 large lemons, cutting off the protruding parts on each end of the lemons. Traditional recipes tell you to quarter the lemons nearly all the way down, leaving them attached at the bottom, but I don’t want to have the hassle of wrestling a whole lemon out of the jar, so I just quarter the lemons lengthwise, or even cut them into sixths if they’re really large. You can eliminate seeds as you see them, but don’t get obsessive about it. Put a couple of tablespoons of salt in the bottom of the jar, then throw in a layer of lemon pieces. If you have a cocktail muddler hanging around the house, now is the time to get it out and smoosh those lemons down to get some juice out of them. Add another tablespoon of salt, and repeat the layers, smooshing each layer until you reach the top of the jar. When you’ve reached the top of the jar, you need to make sure that all of the lemons are covered with juice. If necessary, squeeze one or two more lemons. Add a final tablespoon of salt and put on either a plastic cover or a canning lid. I’ve found from experience that while there are some really nice jars that would be perfect for recycling, the salt will make the lids rust. So that’s why you need a plastic cover or canning lid.
Label the jar and note the date you started them, then just leave them on the counter where you’ll see them and remember to give the jar a shake a couple of times a day. Do this for 30 days, then you can start using them. Refrigerate the lemons after that.
Some people only use the peel, rinsing it off and throwing away the flesh, but I don’t rinse and I use everything (except the seeds) unless I’m putting them into a tossed salad or something similar where the texture of the flesh would be off-putting.
Simple enough. Try your preserved lemons instead of lemon zest and lemon juice in any dip, salad, stew, soup, or sauce when you want to add some zip.
And, life is good on Paradise!