This approach packs pieces of lemon among spices and salt and allows them to cure for nearly a month.
Servings: 3 preserved lemons
- 3 large lemons
- 1 cup kosher or sea salt
- 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
- 1 teaspoon whole cloves
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 1/2 cup olive oil (more if necessary, as lemons set)
Rinse lemons under cool running water and remove any surface wax by scrubbing with an abrasive sponge.
Quarter the lemons and remove any seeds. Toss the lemon quarters in a large bowl with the salt.
Combine the peppercorns and cloves; set aside.
Arrange 1/3 of the lemons in a clean, dry, 16-ounce glass jar. Sprinkle with half the peppercorn and clove mixture, some of the salt remaining in the bowl, a bay leaf and cinnamon stick. Add 1/2 of the remaining lemons, then sprinkle with the remaining peppercorns and cloves, some of the salt and the remaining bay leaf and cinnamon stick. Top with the remaining lemons and salt. Press the lemons gently to extract juice, then add enough oil to cover, making sure the lemons are completely immersed. Leave a bit of air before closing jar to allow for expansion of lemons as they absorb the salt and liquid.
Close the lid and set aside for 10 days at room temperature, gently turning the jar upside down and then right side up again to redistribute the salt. If at any time the lemons are not completely immersed, add enough fresh liquid to cover them immediately, as spoilage can occur within a day.
After 10 days, refrigerate the jars for 18 more days, turning every day. After 28 days, the lemons are ready. May refrigerate for up to 6 months.
To use: Cut off a small piece of lemon zest off to taste for saltiness. Rinse if necessary. Finely chop or cut the rind into slivers, depending on the intended use.
From food and travel writer Terri Pischoff Wuerthner.
E-mail questions to the Food Section at firstname.lastname@example.org.