Lemons which are preserved in salt lose their sharpness and acquire a distinct mellow flavor. There are a common ingredient in Moroccan cooking. It is worth making your own, though they can be bought in Middle Eastern markets. Normally just the peel is used for cooking, so you can use small ones with thin skins, which are preferred, but whatever the type you must be sure that they are unwaxed.
- French sea salt
- Glass jar
1- Sterilize your glass jar by cleaning with hot water and soap. Then without drying the jar, put it in the oven at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
2- Make a vertical cut half way through the lemon. The two halves should remain attached at the base.
3- Turn the lemon upside down and cut the lemon again half way vertically at a 90-degree angle to the first cut. You will end up with 4 pieces that are still attached in the middle.
4- Add 1 teaspoon of salt to each side of the lemons, then pack them tightly in the jar until no space is left. Sprinkle some salt in the jar.
5- Cover the jar, and keep it at room temperature in a dark closet or cabinet for a month.
6- The only time you are going to check on the jar is during the first 3 days to verify if the juice produced by the lemons is enough. If the lemons on top are not covered with juice, add fresh lemon juice until the top lemons are covered. Cover the jar and return it to the cabinet.
Rinsing the lemons: if you are using the lemons in a salad, rinse them to reduce the amount of salt. if you are using them in a tagine (moroccan stew), it depends on the amount of salt that you have already put in the tagine, so you can rinse the lemons or not.
Using the lemons: Preserved lemons can be used in tagines and salads. If using preserved lemons in a salad, dice the lemons and use both the pulp and the skin. However, use only the pulp when cooking the lemons in a tagine, and reserve the skin for decoration (to hint that this tagine was made with preserved lemons). The skin can cause the sauce of the tagine to get a little bitter.
Allow to cure for at least 4-6 weeks. After opening, store in refrigerator.