Saturday, August 11

Preserved lemons

I know that I promised this recipe a long time ago when I published the recipe for preserved lemon, mango and coriander chutney, but I've only just got round to doing the pictures and finding a little time to post it. It's extremely easy to make preserved lemons, and if you have a local market nearby, incredibly cheap too. Here in Deptford we can often buy six or eight lemons for £1 and so you can make a jar of these for little over a quid. They are very versatile for adding to salads, stews and so on, although so far I've only used them for chutney making.

1kg small lemons
150g good quality sea salt (I just use table salt)
1tsp black or pink peppercorns
a few bay leaves
1 tsp coriander seeds

Ideally you should use unwaxed lemons, but I would have to make a special trip to Sainsbury's or something, with no guarantee of success, so I just buy waxed ones and give them a thorough scrub with a vegetable brush first.  Set aside three or four which will be juiced.

Make two deep slits lengthways through the rest of the lemons but don't cut them right through, so that the lemon stays intact. The first time I did this I left both ends attached but found it difficult to get the salt in, so the second time I just left one end intact, it was much easier.

Rub a good teaspoonful of salt into the inside of each lemon, and pack them as tightly as you can into a large pickle jar (use the ones with the screwtop lids not the ones with the swing lids as I did in the picture below - the salt will rust the metal attachment.)

As you pack them in, sprinkle the peppercorns, coriander seeds and bay leaves between the lemons along with the rest of the salt. Juice the remaining lemons and pour the lemon juice into the jars, topping up with water so that the lemons are fully covered. It will take about four weeks for the skins to go soft and for them to be ready to eat. Usually it's only the skins that are used; wash the brine off the lemon, scrape out the flesh and then chop the skins into small pieces or whatever the recipe calls for. A beautiful, intense lemon flavour!

One thing I've found is that I have had trouble keeping the top lemon fully immersed in the brine - they tend to float up to the top of the jar. If anyone has any tips for how to prevent this, please share in the comments!


Felix` said...

This is so awesome. I was hoping to buy a big jar of preserved lemons today in town, but the shop which used to stock them no longer has them. MAKING MY OWN is a far more attractive and fun proposition - thanks so much for providing such simple instructions and for making it seem so easy! I am empowered, and no longer beholden to The Man for my preserved lemons thanks to you!

Caterina said...

I read somewhere that you can buy a plastic round thingy that you can bend and slip under the rim of the jar and that keeps the food below the liquid level. Not sure where you can get them though, try to do a google.

On a different matter, soon there will be plenty of French beans for you to pick up. We had some today and they are lovely. If you pop in, say, on Weds, there should be more than enough for you to take, let me know x

Knit Nurse said...

@felix definitely make your own, they are so simple and pretty fool proof, and cheap too!

Knit Nurse said...

@caterina that sounds like a very obvious solution pretty sure I'll be able to fashion something suitable out of plastic. And I'll definitely be round for the beans!

colleen said...

Brilliant - thanks. Will definitely be making some for you.

I have some seeds for you here - cuttings not available yet. Are you still at the same address?

knit nurse said...

@colleen yes I am thanks! I trust you'll include instructions on when to sow, if appropriate?