Preserved lemons add sunny warmth to winter dishes
The bright bitter taste of preserved lemons adds a compelling flavour to all sorts of dishes.
Have you ever been cooking a Mediterranean-inspired winter stew and thought, hmmm, this needs just a little something...?
That "something" that works for me is the bright bitter edge of preserved lemons. They add a compelling flavour that can lift a stew that's heavy with tomato, chickpeas and warming spices.
Preserved lemons can also add oomph to couscous and I have a tasty recipe of my mom's for preserved lemons tossed with homemade pasta, garlic and parmesan. All that to say, preserved lemons are really versatile.
My favourite ways to use preserved lemons are in stewed Moroccan chicken and Moroccan chickpea stew. For both recipes I include the pulp in the stew, along with the rind. (For couscous and salad recipes I use only the rind.)
Preserved lemons aren't just for savoury dishes. Next on my list to try is a preserved lemon pound cake shared by a friend.
To use the lemons:
To use the lemons, remove and discard the pulp and scrape off some of the pith then rinse and dice. If you're using the pulp too simply rinse and chop.
In the winter I often preserve meyer lemons. Small, thin skinned and distinctively delicious, meyer lemons are perfect for preserving. Any type of lemon is delicious preserved, but thin-skinned varieties are best.
This recipe is from Paula Wolfert, a well-known authority on Mediterranean cooking who has a special fondness for the cuisine of North Africa. Sometimes I add a bay leaf and a couple of cardamom pods to the recipe below, for variety.
Green tip: Use organic lemons if you can find them, since it's the skin you'll be eating.
How to Make Preserved LemonsIngredients:
- 2 ripe lemons
- 1/3 cup coarse sea salt
- ½ cup fresh lemon juice
- Scrub the lemons and dry well. Cut each into 8 wedges. (You can keep the wedges intact at the bottom, if you like.)
- Toss them with the salt or stuff them with salt if you're leaving the wedges connected.
- Place in a sterilized ½ pint glass jar. Pour in the lemon juice to cover.
- Close the jar tightly and let the lemons ripen at room temperature for 7 days, shaking the jar each day to distribute the salt and juice.
- Store in the refrigerator for up to 6 months.