When I’m wondering how to make a plain meal more interesting, I pull out a jar of preserved lemons. If I need a hostess gift, I bring a jar of preserved lemons. Simple to make, preserved lemons are lovely to look at and jazz up everything you add them to. Most recipes that include preserved lemons say to use only the rind, but I can’t bring myself to throw away the salty, squishy pulp. It tastes far too good to waste, so I use it along with the rinds in salads, pasta, and tagines. You can preserve other types of lemons, but the thinner skin and relative sweetness of the Meyer lemon makes them my first choice.
How to Make Preserved Meyer Lemons: Step by Step
1. Cut the Lemons
Many recipes recommend leaving the lemons whole, cutting them into quarters almost all the way through the lemon, but leaving the quarters attached at the base. I prefer to cut the lemons into fully separated quarters or eighths for two reasons: I rarely need more than a quarter lemon at a time, and I can fit more in a jar if the pieces are smaller.
2. Only Two Ingredients
First, each sterilized jar gets a tablespoon of kosher salt. Next, add a layer of lemons, then sprinkle another tablespoon of salt on top of the lemons. Alternate layers of salt and lemons, pushing down on the fruit to release the juices. Leave an inch of head space in each jar, and be sure the lemon juice covers the tops of the lemons. You may need to add a little extra lemon juice to top off each jar.
3. A Little Patience
Preserved lemons need to sit for about four weeks to fully soften and become delicious. During the first week I turn them upside down and right-side up at twelve hour intervals (not precise intervals!) to make sure the salt/juice solution is evenly distributed and all the lemons macerate equally. Do it on top of a cookie sheet in case there are any leaky lids, and if there are, tighten your lids appropriately.
That’s it! Can you believe how easy that is? Preserved lemons don’t need refrigeration until you’ve opened a jar, then you’ll need to refrigerate whatever you haven’t used. They won’t last long when you realize how versatile they are. Cooked or raw, preserved lemons are my go-to condiment when I want to impress.
How will YOU use them?
With chicken thighs and feta cheese? With spinach and yogurt? Sliced raw into a salad? I’d love to hear what you do with them.