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A Cure to the Lemon Problem You Didn't Know You Had

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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.

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How to Preserve Lemons

How to Preserve Lemons by gheanna

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1 Jar of Preserved Lemons, 5 Dinners

1 Jar of Preserved Lemons, 5 Dinners by Melina Hammer

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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.

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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.

There you go making our lives wonderful again, lemons.
There you go making our lives wonderful again, lemons. Photo by Cristina Sciarra

"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.

Or experiment with these recipes:

Grilled Bread with Thyme Pesto and Preserved Lemon Cream

Grilled Bread with Thyme Pesto and Preserved Lemon Cream by fiveandspice

Preserved Lemon Aioli

Preserved Lemon Aioli by Amanda Hesser

Shaved Fennel and Tuna Salad with Preserved Lemon

Shaved Fennel and Tuna Salad with Preserved Lemon by Kristy Mucci

Moroccan carrot salad with Harissa

Moroccan carrot salad with Harissa by Cordeliah

Savory Shrimp with Chickpeas, Green Olives, and Preserved Lemon

Savory Shrimp with Chickpeas, Green Olives, and Preserved... by Melina Hammer

Fennel, Merguez, and Preserved Meyer Lemon Braise

Fennel, Merguez, and Preserved Meyer Lemon Braise by Cristina Sciarra

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.


Tags: preserved lemons, lemons, cured lemons, palomar