I am thinking of tackling preserved lemons! I have the brief 'recipe' from Deborah Madison's The New Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone which is really a paragraph with no measurements. Any tips, tricks, or recipes for me to follow? Thanks!
Here's a good way to start for you. I haven't tried the second method, but I may next time because of the high praise. For the first time, I pureed my last batch and love the results. I also have never added the chilies or spices. I think I added a cinnamon stick and whole peppercorns once, but I couldn't detect them at all.
thanks so much!
Emily - I don't add spices or olive oil, just more lemon juice. I usually use wide mouth quart jars and start with a base of about a quarter inch of kosher salt at the bottom of the jar. I criss cross cut the lemons from top almost to the bottom - two cuts unless they are really large lemons, that make it look like an open flower. Then pour a bunch of kosher salt inside each lemon and squeeze them into the jar. Really squeeze them in and them press them down so that they give off a little juice, but leave a little headroom. Then juice several more lemons and fill the jar with the juice, making sure to try to cover the lemons with the juice. Seal with a non-reactive lid (or the acid might make the metal rust) and leave in a dark place for one month, checking occasionally to see that the lemons are covered. Give them a shake to redistribute the salt that falls to the bottom. Sometimes I turn them over a few times a week at the beginning. After about a month they are ready to use and I keep them in the refrigerator after that.
as to how much salt per lemon, I never measure, but I'd guess I use at least 1 Tablespoon per.
awesome thank you!
I used the recipe in the A&M NYT cookbook. Meyer lemons (my mil has a tree in her backyard) and bay leaves. They are beautiful and so much less expensive than in the store.
I follow Paula Wolfert's recipe; she is the doyenne of Moroccan cooking. Much like Susan W.'s recipe. I start with organic lemons. Instead of quartering them, I cut them into sixths (they last longer that way :) but not all the way through: leave the bottom attached. I use 1/4 - 1/3 cup kosher salt but I whiz it in a mini processor to make it finer. For some reason I think that will help it absorb better. Pour some of the salt into the bottom of a wide mouth jar. Cut lemons one by one and pour a teaspoon or two of salt into each cut surface. Really pack the lemons hard into a wide mouth jar. 5 or six or more lemons, plus extra for juice (more lemons and less juice is the way to go so pack in as many as you possibly can and then pack in another one). Add a cinnamon stick, 5 peppercorns, a few whole coriander seeds, 3 whole cloves, bay leaf and cardamom seed (my own addition). Top with fresh lemon juice and remaining salt. I always add the whole spices. They give a subtle change and refinement to the flavor that I love. Cap them and shake every day for a month. After a couple weeks it may look like a lacy substance develops in the liquid--that's fine. The lemons become translucent as time goes by. They last a long time after opening and will darken over time, that's fine too.
A great tip that someone here posted was to take bamboo skewers and cut them to fit inside the jar. You can then push down the lemons with the skewer to make sure that the lemons stay submerged in the juice. I made a batch yesterday and the skewer tip has worked beautifully. So far I have only made my preserved lemons plain, but I am a recipient of a grocery bag of meyer lemons so I am going to try a spice mix.
I have made preserved lemons any number of ways, the most recent of which was to pickle them first. (This involves the extreme effort of leaving them on the counter, the jar lids on loosely, until you get some fermentation going. Refrigeration slows fermentation. They were the best ever.) I've never measured either salt or lemon juice--these are, after all, salty and lemony. I think this is one of those rare wonderful things that are almost impossible to mess up.
I do the cross-slice method where the lemon stays intact, and I spoon about a tablespoon per lemon, also putting a layer of salt on the bottom of the jar. The most important thing is to make sure they stay submerged in lemon juice. Though this is really a hard thing to screw up, I neglected a jar in a cabinet and it molded (not the harmless little bit of white mold--a bloom of green-black mold). You can even top off with a little bit of water.
You need not fill a huge jar either. I just made a batch in a 1/4 liter Weck cylindrical jar. It perfectly holds 2 lemons, and that amount will last me quite a while, as you barely use a quarter of a lemon in most recipes.
I use the instructions from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone myself. Echoing what Exbruxelles said, I think there are no measurements because it doesn't really matter. They have always turned out well. I recommend making a large jar of them -- they take a few weeks to be usable, but keep for years (really) in the fridge. I don't remember if this is in the instructions or not, but I do cut some of the lemons into quarters or halves to pack around the whole lemons in the jar, so that I have more lemons and less brine.