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Preserved Lemons

Ingredients:

A preserved lemon is a lemon that has been soaking in lemon juice or oil and salt. The lemon loses the bitter taste and becomes sweet. Preserved lemons are very popular in Moroccan cuisine. Salt-preserved lemons are a surprisingly versatile pantry staple. Salt curing causes the rinds of the lemons to soften, and fermentation enhances their natural tartness. Always rinse lemons before use. More commonly the rind will be used in recipes, but the flesh can be used as well.

Yields 1 quart

About 7 thick-skinned lemons, such as Lisbon or Eureka, plus 1-2 extra
Kosher or sea salt

Directions:

  1. Wash and dry the lemons. If they feel waxy, give them a scrub with a vegetable brush.
  2. Cut a small slice off the blossom end of the lemon. Cut into the lemon from pole to pole, stopping just short of the stem end. Turn 90º and repeat. You should now have a lemon that is cut into quarters but still held together on the stem end.
  3. Pour a layer of salt in the bottom of a quart-sized mason jar. Pour about a cup of salt into a bowl or tray. Over the bowl, gently pry apart the quadrants of the lemon and pack salt into the gaps. Place the lemon in the mason jar. Repeat with the other lemons, pressing down to squeeze juices and pack the lemons into the jar. Pack the lemons up to the shoulder of the jar. If the released juices do not cover the packed lemons, squeeze additional lemons and add the juice. Cover the jar.
  4. Allow the lemons to stand at room temperature for one week, then refrigerate. The lemons will last for months, but will continue to soften over time. To use preserved lemons, cut off as many lobes as you wish to use, remove the flesh of the fruit, rinse the rind, and chop.

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