Preserved lemons – A taste of Morocco

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WE only have one lemon tree here at Olive Tree Farm, but I do like to make the most of them. Lemon curd was always a favourite until I discovered preserved lemons.

These salt-pickled lemons are very expensive to buy, but incredibly easy to make yourself. You need to sterilise jars and lids first by washing them in hot soapy water, rinsing, and then leaving in an oven. pre-heated to 120 degrees C for around 20 minutes until they are dry. Leave the jars and lids to cool and then pack them with the lemons, skin side facing the outsides of the jar. They take at least 4 weeks before they are ready to use. Over the next few weeks I will share a few recipes, which you can use them in, for when yours are ready. They are lovely on salads, in Tagines and with fish, so I will work on a variety of ideas for you to enable you to enjoy cooking with them.

Ingredients

6-8 large unwaxed lemons (if you buy them, blanch in boiling water for about 30 seconds to remove the wax and then rub dry with a dry cloth)

  • Course sea salt
  • Bay Leaves
  • Cinnamon sticks
  • Black pepper corns

Method

Cut each lemon into 6 equal pieces, cutting down from the top to the bottom of the lemon.

Put them in a bowl and add a heaped tablespoon of course sea salt for each lemon. Rub the salt through the flesh and skin and give them a bit a squeeze to remove some of the juice.

Then pack them as tightly as you can into your sterilised jar adding the salty liquid left in the bowl as you add them. Place them skin side out, adding a bay leaf or 2, a few black pepper corns, and a cinnamon stick as you go along. The jars look pretty if you can see the bay leaves etc so try and keep them towards the edges.

Top up with extra lemon juice so they are completely covered and seal tightly with a lid.

Leave them out for a couple of days, turning them upside down a few times over the course of the day. Then pop them in the fridge for at least 4 weeks until they are mature, turning them every couple of days. As long as when you come to use them, you make sure they are still covered with the salty liquid, they will keep for about a year in the fridge.

Interesting fact! In Morocco you will be asked what colour or age you would like; many consider the older fruits to be more subtly flavoured and are often the most expensive.

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