Friday, April 1, 2011

Making Preserved Lemons

This post has little to do with processed foods. It is not like overly processed lemon preserves are ripping families apart and destroying the food culture of our nation. Actually, preserved lemons aren’t even a food that most people are interested in. By writing this post I am simply doing a bit of bragging that I actually made such a thing as preserved lemons. But also to show those who are interested that it isn’t that hard. They are pretty cool. And if you had wanted to make my quinoa salad from yesterday, but didn’t know where you’d get preserved lemons, you needn’t worry! They are super easy to make, and I don’t think I have ever seen them in the grocery store.

I got interested in preserved lemons after reading about them in Nourishing Traditions. But also, of course, because of our trip to Morocco last fall. Preserved lemons are used throughout Moroccan cooking, but most notably in chicken with lemon and olives. There isn’t much reason to use lemon zest and juice in that recipe when you can have the real thing. The lemons smell so wonderful and citrusy. And with the hint of cinnamon smell you would assume that the lemons taste sweet, like marmalade. But actually they are quite salty, adding a whole depth of tart-salty flavor to recipes. And since the preserves keep indefinitely, there is no reason to shy away from this recipe because you don’t know what you’d do with them. Use some now; stick the rest in the back of the fridge. You’ll come back and make chicken or something else in a couple weeks. I also plan on whirring up nice vinaigrette in my blender and dropping in a tablespoon of these babies for added flavor. Here is the recipe that I followed from Nourshing Traditions:

Preserved Lemons

5 organic lemons, preferably thin skinned variety

3 tablespoons sea salt

3 cinnamon sticks, broken up

2 tablespoons whey

Juice of two lemons

Wash lemons well, slice thinly and cut slices into quarters. Toss into a bowl with salt and cinnamon sticks. Place in a quart sized mason jar and press down, the handle of a wooden spoon works nicely. The mix will be quite wet and juicy. Mix lemon juice and whey and add to the jar with the lemons. Press so that liquid completely covers the lemon quarters. Lemons should be at least one inch from below the top of the jar. Cover tightly and keep at room temperature for up to two weeks, turning once a day. I noticed after about ten days that the juice was less runny and thicker. That was when I move the jar into my fridge. When using the lemons in a recipe, just use the peel, diced. I also noticed that from so much turning and mashing and agitation, the pulp was mashed up into the fermentation juice. I have had nothing to remove.

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