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The Whole Foods Kosher kitchen

Preserved Lemons Recipe

Posted on 1st of February, 2012 by Lévana


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There is no Moroccan cooking without preserved lemons, and the store-bought variety doesn’t even begin to compare with homemade. They take minutes to prepare and two weeks to “incubate,” totally unassisted, and the result is a few months’ supply of the single element that will convert many of your dishes from plain to glorious. The fragrance is intoxicating: a pure lemon quintessence for lemon lovers only.Call this great condiment our secret weapon for countless tajines, soups,  fish, beans and rice dishes.

When lemons are plentiful, buy a dozen or two, a box of coarse salt, and a couple of wide-mouth glass jars. That is all you need, along with some elbow grease to cram the lemons into the jar and force the juices out. That is the secret of their swelling and pickling, as well as their heady aroma. Do not let the amount of salt daunt you. Much of it gets washed away, and you can reduce, or even eliminate, salt from the dish you are preparing with the preserved lemons.

8 to 10 large thick-skinned lemons
Coarse sea salt

Wash and dry the lemons thoroughly. Remove any green points attached to the ends of the lemons. Cut them in quarters lengthwise. Place 2 to 3 pieces in a clean wide-mouth quart-sized glass jar, top with a thick layer of salt. Repeat: Lemon, salt, lemon, salt, and so on, all the way to the top, pressing down hard as you go to draw out the juice. Don’t worry if the juices don’t appear immediately; they soon will, with all that salt. The lemons should be totally submerged by their own juice, and reach all the way to the top of the jar. Top with an extra layer of salt to ensure that no lemon skin is exposed (or it will mold). You will need 2 jars. Place the jars in a dark cool place (I keep mine under the sink). They will be ready in two weeks, at which point they should be refrigerated. To use, take out a quarter of a lemon at a time. Discard the pulp, rinse the skin thoroughly, and mince. Add to fish and chicken dishes, bean soups, salads, and salsas. Makes about 2 quarts. After the two weeks of pickling at room temperature, store refrigerated.

Filed under: Condiments Recipes, Lemon Recipes, Moroccan Food, Moroccan Recipes, Moroccan Salads Recipes, Recipes, Tajines Recipes

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6 Questions

  1. homepage, on Said:

    Hello! I could have sworn I’ve been to this site before but after browsing through some of the
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  2. Kitty M, on Said:

    Hi, I have been teaching how to make preserved lemons a la marocaine ever since I started teaching Moroccan cooking about 30 years ago. Bravo for propagating the secret.

    My recipe, included in all my cookbooks (and Cooking at the Kasbah), which comes from my Algerian great grandmother, calls for letting them “sit” at room temp. 4 to 6 weeks, not 2.

    Vive les citrons confits, soudainement à la mode.
    Are you from Morocco?

    • Lévana, on Said:

      Hi Kitty, so nice to hear from you! I received one of your cookbooks as a present a long time ago. Just like you, I have been teaching cooking for over thirty years, on Moroccan and many other themes, so I am certainly not starting a fad here! All my cookbooks prominently display citrons confits in quite a few dishes! Yes I am from Morocco. Do you live in NYC?