How to make Preserved Lemons
This week I had planned to post a Chicken Tagine recipe that I make often, and it seems like one of those recipes we don’t get tired of. Few days ago I ran into a friend that told me how much she loves visiting my blog, but that the recipes are too complicated, or have ingredients she has never heard of. She told me she can cook, but she always cooks the same stuff she already knows. That made me think again about why I started to write Five Senses Palate. This blog is a personal project that I started as a compilation of my favorite recipes; to have a place to direct my friends when they asked me how to make something I made before. In all honesty I didn’t think that many people read my recipes. I know a handful of people that do, they tell me when they make something and how much they like it.
In any case, that conversation made me look back, at all the things that I told myself I wanted to accomplish with this way of journaling my kitchen adventures. I wanted to encourage people to try different things, and to show them step by step that it is easy to cook great meals at home. I don’t need a recipe to cook everyday meals, in fact, I must confess that I hardly ever follow a recipe. That was my first challenge, to learn how to put recipes together and word every step in a way you can follow. I even got myself The Recipe Writer’s Handbook, it has been very helpful. Another friend suggested that I should rate the recipe by levels of difficulty, I may start doing that, once I figure out a system that works. The thing is that I do like to challenge myself, and I guess in my journey I’ll be challenging you too. Get out of your comfort zone, try new things. Be adventurous, surprise yourself, and others. It will be fun and delicious at the same time. I promise!
Instead of going straight to my Chicken Tagine recipe, today I am posting how to make one of the ingredients that I have in my fridge at all times: Preserved Lemons. It has many different uses, I make it every time I am craving Chicken Tagine. Then I end up using it in many other things like salad dressing, on top of fish, or potatoes, I add it to pasta sauces. Ok, this one is very easy, you brine the lemons in their own juice, some aromatics, and salt for few weeks. I find that making my own preserved lemons is a lot cheaper than buying them at specialty stores. I’ll post more than one recipe using preserved lemons in the near future. Preserving lemons in this brine works like magic, making the lemon rind tartness mellow and bright. The super concentrated lemony flavor that it adds to your dishes will be totally worth the wait.
In the kitchen there is no right or wrong. If you don’t have something, you can go ahead and substitute for something similar (unless you are baking, then it gets complicated). For the most part, just pour your heart out in the kitchen, and I am sure it will taste great even if it’s not an exact copy of a recipe!
You’ll need a 16 oz. glass jar.
3 Meyer lemons
2 tablespoons sea salt
5 whole peppercorn
1 bay leaf
Wash lemons, scrubbing the outside under running water. In a the glass jar, add 1 tablespoon salt , peppercorns, and bay leaf. Cut the end of 2 lemons, cut them in quarters length wise. Spoon the remainder salt all over the lemons, and rub with your finger tips. Place them inside the jar. Cut the last lemon in half and squeeze its juice in the jar. Fill the rest of the jar with water, until it reaches the top. Place the cover and shake. Keep in a dark place at room temperature for 2 to 4 weeks. I keep it in my pantry. Shake it daily, the salt will eventually be dissolved. After 2 or 3 weeks, when you are ready to use your lemons make sure to remove the seeds before using. After you open the jar, keep refrigerated. It will last a long time in the fridge although this is a small jar, compare to anything else I’ve found in books, and the web. This is what works for me, feel free to make as much as you want.
This recipe was adapted from the book Las Escapadas de Jamie by Jamie Oliver.