I’m hoping that this is the first stage of a whole new world of cooking. I might be asking too much of some lemons in a jar, but to me, this feels exotic. I’ve eaten some wonderful Middle Eastern dishes with preserved lemons, but I’ve never cooked with them. You could of course just buy some preserved lemons, but I’ve always wanted to preserve them myself and to start from the beginning. Having my own fruitful lemon tree would be even better, but I think firstly relocation would need to occur. Hey ho. So, below is a basic method of preserving lemons, but I’ll need to wait for at least a month before I can cook with them.
5 unwaxed, preferably organic lemons to preserve
1 lemon, for the juice
5 or 6 tblsp sea salt flakes
1 bay leaf
Pinch of coariander seeds
3 dried chillis
Wash the lemons, and then dry. Cut off the stalk end, and from the other end, slice lengthways almost to the end, so that it’s still attached at the bottom. Do this again, so that you produce a cross (i.e. you have quartered it, but not all the way down).
Pack each lemon with salt (about one tablespoon per lemon). Next sterilise a jar (I did so by placing in boiling water for several minutes), and pack the lemons in, squeezing out the juice. Pour over the juice of the remaining lemon. Add the herbs and spices and close the jar.
Then over the next few days, keep prodding the lemons until the juice has covered them all. If there’s not enough to cover them after four or five days, then squeeze in another lemon. Store in a cool place (no need to refrigerate), and use once the lemons are soft (you use the skin, not the flesh) by rinsing thoroughly to remove any salt. Use as per recipe – more on that in a month or so!