Preserved Lemons 4.000

Stacy Zarin Goldberg for The Washington Post; food styling by Lisa Cherkasky for The Washington Post

Jan 7, 2020

Bright and briny, these preserved lemons make a flavorful addition to cooked grains, roasted chicken, stew or soups. You can also muddle or puree some of the lemon to add brightness to a gin-and-tonic or a martini.

Make Ahead: The lemons need to be prepared at least 3 weeks before you will use them.

Storage Notes: Store the lemons refrigerated in a jar with a lid, ideally submerged, for 6 months and up to 1 year.

4 - 8

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Tested size: 4-8 servings; makes 4 preserved lemons

  • 5 small, organic and preferably unwaxed lemons (about 1 pound)
  • 5 teaspoons kosher salt, divided, or more as needed
  • 1 cup water, or more as needed

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Make a deep "x" incision in 4 of the lemons, leaving about 1/4-inch intact at the bottom of each fruit, so it almost opens like a flower. Pack about 1 teaspoon salt into each lemon, getting it between the sections.

Pack the salted lemons into a wide-mouth jar just large enough to hold the lemons, squishing them down with clean hands to yield as much liquid as possible. Juice the remaining lemon; you will need about 1/4 cup of juice. Dissolve 1 teaspoon of salt in 1 cup of water; then add the juice. Pour the brine over the lemons until they are completely submerged, then weigh the lemons down with a heavy stone or water-filled plastic bag. (If you don’t have enough liquid to cover the lemons in the jar, you can mix 1 teaspoon of salt per 1 cup of water, and add as needed.)

Cover and place in a moderately cool location, about 65 to 70 degrees. (If using a lid, be sure to "burp" the jar regularly – preferably before it shows signs of bulging. Or use cheesecloth or an airlock fermenting lid, which will allow microbe-created gas to escape while keeping outside air from entering. If using cheesecloth, you do not need to cover with lid.)

Taste the lemons after 3 weeks, and weekly thereafter, to determine readiness. They will remain a saturated yellow and will taste bright, salty and sour – including the peel.

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Recipe Source

From cookbook author Katherine Harmon Courage.

Tested by Olga Massov.

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