As a result of making the limoncello, I had a hell of a lot of leftover peeled lemons, even after using a good chunk to make myself some lemon curd. I’ve done enough Middle Eastern cooking that I’d seen preserved lemons pop up as an ingredient in dishes, but either didn’t have any on me, or the cheapest I would’ve been able to find them would’ve been close to $10 on the internet. As it turns out, making your own is ridiculously easy, so I decided to use my leftover meyer lemons accordingly. As far as I can tell, the lack of peels shouldn’t cause any issues, and in fact may have assisted in being able to fit more lemons in my jar.
The recipe comes from the Ottolenghi and Tamini cookbook Jerusalem, a cookbook I don’t use nearly often enough. As the lemons sit for the first phase of this, they will naturally settle, and can be pushed down a bit to allow you to fit in more lemons (see the difference between pics 2 and 3). I started out with about seven lemons, and ended up with ten in there, plus an extra half lemon. This is gonna sit in my cupboard for a while to settle now, but when the time comes to use these in a recipe, it’s gonna be glorious.
Makes however many lemons you can fit in whatever sized jar you have
- Meyer lemons (mine were peeled as a result of making the limoncello, with or without peel shouldn’t make a difference)
- 1 T sea salt per lemon
- 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
- red pepper flakes to taste
- olive oil
Take your lemons, and cut a cross in them, leaving about ¾ths of an inch from the base. Fill the cross with 1 T sea salt, so that the lemon looks like the first picture above. Put into your jar, and repeat with however many lemons you choose to preserve. Seal your jar, and place in a cool dark place for a week. Check on it occasionally, and as the lemons settle, add more lemons if you feel like it.
After a week, open your jar, and press down on your lemons to release whatever juices haven’t already been released. If necessary, top off with additional fresh squeezed lemon juice to cover the lemons. (This was not necessary for me.) Put in two sprigs of fresh rosemary, and however much red pepper flakes you feel comfortable with, and top with a thin layer of olive oil. Then, reseal, flip the jar upside down and right side up a bit to help the flakes settle throughout the jar, and put back into your cool dark place for another three to four weeks. The longer you let the jar sit, the more the flavors will infuse.
And then, use the hell out of them in your cooking!