You won't believe how easy Preserved Lemons are to make, and they are my new favorite secret ingredient in cooking. I know you will love them too. And, they make terrific Christmas edible gifts or hostess gifts for your foodie friends.
Trim ¼ inch off the top and bottom of each lemon. Split each lemon lengthwise into quarters, being careful not to cut all the way through at the bottom. The quarters should still be connected to the base.
Spoon a generous amount of salt onto the split lemons and place them in a large bowl or plastic bag. Refrigerate overnight. The salt will cause the lemons to release a large amount of juice which is what you want.
Place the lemons in sterilized mason jars and mash them down firmly. This will release even more juice. The lemons must be completely submerged in the lemon juice. If not, you will need to add more freshly squeezed juice.
Seal the jars and store in the refrigerator for at least 4 weeks and up to 6 months or longer for the best results. The longer you wait to use the lemons the more their flavor develops.
To use the lemons in a recipe, if it just calls for the peel, remove a lemon from the jar, rinse it well and scrape the pulp and any seeds away. Then finely chop the peel and use as called for in the recipe. Prepared this way, it also makes a great substitute for lemon zest.Depending on the recipe, especially for pasta dishes, I also often chop up the pulp and include it along with the peel.In addition to lemons, you can also preserve limes, oranges, and grapefruit. It's a fabulous way to have winter citrus all year long. You can use this same recipe to preserve limes. However, to preserve oranges, tangerines, or satsumas, you will need to add lemon juice because their juice by itself isn't acidic enough to preserve the peel.According to the Food Network, in order to sterilize jars, wash them with hot sudsy water, and rinse well. Place clean empty jars in a large pot and completely cover the jars with water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Once the water reaches a full rolling boil, boil the jars for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the jars stand in hot water for about 30 minutes. Remove from the pot and fill while they are still hot. Meanwhile, put the lids and bands in a separate saucepan of simmering water until ready to use (do not boil).To be safe, store your jars of preserved lemons in the refrigerator and use them within the first year. I am still using a batch I made last year, and they are still fine. How many lemons you can fit in a jar depends on the size of a jar and the size of your lemons. My lemons were large, and I could only squeeze two into a pint-size jar. A wide-mouth jar works best.