SATURDAY COOKING: PRESERVED LEMONS

It’s still lemon season and now is a good time to make PRESERVED LEMONS. They need to stay untouched for about a month after you’ve made them. So start thinking about it for a lovely Christmas present!

This is my way of making them, nice and easy.
Lots of recipes say to use whole lemons, cut in quarters almost to the base of the lemon and fill with rock salt and then put in a jar topped up with extra lemon juice. The problem with this, is that when you need to use a little bit of the preserved lemon, you have to get the whole lemon out of the jar. It’s messy, slippery and not particularly practical.
So I slice the lemons first. Much better!

6-8 lemons
2 bay leaves
2 dried chillies
1 tablespoon coriander seeds, roasted, slilghtly crushed
4-5 tablespoons rock salt

Method:

Cut the lemons at the end, then in half. Remove the pips, then slice each halves.
I use a 2 litres icecream container (but you could use a glass dish) and in it go the  lemons,  bay leaves,  coriander seeds ,  dried chillies and  rock salt.
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I then mix all this and squish it a bit and leave it in the container, covered,  for 3 days, stirring once a day.
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Then, put this mixture in a big sterilised jar (I got mine from Ikea) and press the lemons down with a spoon. If needed, add extra lemon juice so all the slices are covered in liquid. Top with a thin layer of olive oil (to act as a “sealant”). Wash around the rim with a clean wet cloth and close the lid.  Put in the fridge for a month without opening. The lemon juice and salt will beak the lemon skins and make them soft.
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I love preserved lemons and I use them in salads, soups,  tagines, anything Moroccan  and it goes really well with my fish, tomato and saffron stew. You only need to use a little bit to boost the flavour of your dish.

Tip: to sterilise your jar, wash it (and the plastic seal) in hot soapy water, then put for 15 minutes in a warm oven (120°). Leave to cool in the oven and then fill your jar.  Do not to put the plastic seal in the oven (let it dry on a dish rack).

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