This recipe is completed in five days. Compared with the traditional approach to preserved lemons, it cuts out three weeks of waiting by simmering whole lemons in a saltwater solution to hurry along the curing process.
Servings: 3 preserved lemons
- 3 large lemons
- 6 cups water
- 1/3 cup kosher or sea salt
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Rinse the lemons under cool running water and remove any surface wax by scrubbing with an abrasive sponge. Using a sharp knife, make 8 vertical but shallow incisions along the length of the lemon, taking care not to cut into the flesh. Set aside.
In a large, nonreactive saucepan, bring the water and salt to a boil. Add the lemons and boil until the rind is very soft, about 8 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside to let the lemons cool in the cooking liquid.
Using a slotted spoon or tongs, transfer the cooled lemons but not the cooking liquid to a clean, dry 16-ounce glass jar with a lid, pressing on the lemons to release any juice and ensure a snug fit. (It may be necessary to cut 1 of the lemons into halves or quarters to ensure that they are tightly packed.) Add enough of the cooking liquid to cover the lemons; it is important that they be completely immersed. (Cover and refrigerate any remaining cooking liquid; you might need it to keep the lemons covered as they cure.) Leave a bit of air before closing the jar to allow for expansion of the lemons as they absorb the salt and liquid.
Close the lid and set aside for 5 days at room temperature, gently turning the jar upside down and then right side up again occasionally to redistribute the salt. If at any time the lemons are not completely immersed, add enough reserved liquid to cover them immediately, as spoilage can occur within a day.
After 5 days, the lemons are ready. They may be stored in the refrigerator for up to 6 months.
To use: Cut off a small piece of lemon zest and taste for saltiness. Rinse if necessary. Finely chop the rind or cut it into slivers, depending on the intended use.
VARIATION: If desired, these spices may be tucked in among the lemons as they are packed into the jar: 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns, 1 teaspoon whole cloves, 2 dried bay leaves and 2 cinnamon sticks.
From food and travel writer Terri Pischoff Wuerthner.
Tested by Terri Pischoff Wuerthner.
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