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Keeping preserved lemons

I've just made up a batch of preserved lemons following very similar recipes in Wolfert's _Couscous and other Good Food from Morocco_ and Walden's _North African Cooking_. Both of these recipes say there is no need to refrigerate your jar of lemons; it can be kept up to a year out of the fridge. Wolfert even says you can re-use the pickling juice.

Now I'm browsing for recipes to use my preserved lemons. I happened to look at the recipe for making the lemons in _The Essential New York Times Cookbook_ (love this book!), and see that this version is more or less the same as what I did (only the spices differ a bit), but it recommends keeping on a few months, and those in the fridge.

Why the difference? I'm thinking Wolfert would be more of an authority here.

asked by kss almost 6 years ago
2 answers 3051 views
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Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

added almost 6 years ago

I'm sure Wolfert is correct (she's been making preserved lemons for decades!), and properly preserved lemons will last a full year, but I've found that sometimes they lose a little something over time. So I tend to keep them just 6 months. The fridge instructions are cautionary because people's kitchens vary in temperature. I keep almost all open preserves in the fridge.

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Lisanne is a trusted home cook.

added almost 6 years ago

I've made Wolfert's lemons many times and do keep them out. But I would add that over time the brine becomes darker and quite thick. In the future I might refrigerate them over time (especially since my kitchen gets hot in summer). For the one-month curing period, I'd probably still keep them out though.
I have reservations about re-using brine in general, because it seems likely that the ratio of salt to liquid must change, since the salt is drawing juices out of the produce being cured. I'm not a chemist, that's just my suspicion. Maybe someone else with chem experience might have more accurate information.

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