There are two types of people in the world: those who love preserved lemons, and those who haven’t tried them yet. Intensely lemony without a bitter bite, preserved lemons are laughably easy to make. Just cut them, rub them with salt, and pack them super-tight into a jar. Three weeks and some intermittent shaking later, you have jar of lemon umami perfection.
But who wants to wait three weeks? Um, not me.
Thankfully, Chefs Layo Paskin and Tomar Amedi’s latest cookbook, The Palomar Cookbook, shows us a better way to preserve lemons that only takes three days: cure them in salt and olive oil.
Besides adding olive oil, curing lemons doesn't differ too much from preserving them. Here's what you need to do:
Slice your lemons and arrange them in a layer on the bottom of a sterilized container or jar, then sprinkle them with a layer of salt. Alternate layers of lemons and salt, leaving about a half an inch at the top. Fill the rest of the container with olive oil and seal with an airtight lid. After three days, your lemons are ready for eating, and can keep in a cool, dry place for a week or in the fridge for up to a month.
Amedi does have three non-negotiables:
Rule 1: Like vampires, cured lemons don’t like sunlight, so always keep them in a cool, dark place.
Rule 2: Always make sure the lemons are fully covered in oil.
Rule 3: Always make sure you take your cured slices out of the container with a clean utensil—we don’t want the lemons to be contaminated.
"In addition to speedier curing, switching water for olive oil eliminates the bleach-y taste preserved lemons sometimes carry," writes Amedi. Palomar chefs use cured lemons in salads, sandwiches, and as a sour paste for sauces or spreads. We think you should try it in tonight’s braised chicken, or to add sour-salty notes to your ice cream.
Forget lemonade. When life gives me lemons, I think I’ll cure them. Tell us what you'll do with cured lemons in the comments below.