A Touch of Sophistication: Moroccan Preserved Lemons
Lemons are beautiful, young, colorful, and full of life. They are simply perfect! But perfect can be taken to a higher level: sophisticatedly perfect. What I mean is that when lemons are preserved, their rind becomes softer, their taste more complex, and they gain much in maturity and intricacy of flavor.
Preserved lemons are to lemons what wine is to the grape, motherhood to a woman: the fulfillment of a destiny.
I’ve had preserved lemons in tagines, warm salads, couscous, and in sandwiches as a replacement for pickles. There is not a market in Morocco where barrels of ripe, briny and brassy lemons are not present, and not a household where they’re not appreciated and used on a regular basis. Even though market lemons are usually made the old-fashioned home-style way, my mother’s taste better. It must be that indefinable little something mothers are good at bestowing upon everything they put their hands on.
Preserved lemons are easy to make and last for a long time. I prefer Meyer lemons for preserving, but Eureka or any other lemon will work fine.
Moroccan Preseved Lemons Recipe
3 cups kosher salt, divided
Wash the lemons thoroughly and pat dry with a towel.
Make four incisions on each lemon lengthwise, staying about ½-inch away from the top and bottom of the lemon.
Place 1 cup of salt in the jar and pack 3 lemons tightly in the bottom of the jar. Cover the lemons with a second cup of salt and closely pack the other three lemons on top. Top with the remaining cup of salt. Cover with water and close the jar tightly.
Store the jar in a cool, dark place. Turn upside down every couple of days to redistribute the salt. The lemons are ready to use after 2 to 3 weeks.
Take the desired amount of preserved lemon out of the jar, rinse to remove excess salt, and scrape off the pulp. Cut into wedges or strips. Refrigerate.