Preserved Lemons

At the Hazon Food Conference (see last few posts), I heard a talk by food writer Joan Nathan. Nathan is famous for her award winning cookbooks including the 2005 release The New American Cooking and the PBS series Jewish Cooking in America.

At the Hazon conference, Nathan gave a few different talks including one on foods of Israel. She claimed that Falafel is probably one of the oldest foods ever made (either the chic pea variety favored in Israel  or the fava bean variety favored in Egypt). I don’t have an opinion on the origin of falafel but I’ve  tasted some that could have been made by ancient Egyptians. See this article for a few falafel tidbits.

Nathan e also talked about a nice recipe for Preserved Lemons which I just finished making at home. If you like Moroccan food, the “secret ingredient” in a lot of the recipes is preserved lemons.

Nathan’s Preserved Lemon recipe from the NY Times is as follows:

“Classic Moroccan Method for Preserving Lemons

12 lemons
1/4 cup kosher salt (about)

1. Quarter 8 of the lemons lengthwise, leaving them connected at one end. You can also slice them thin.

2. With your fingers stuff about 2 tablespoons salt inside the lemons, close them and place in a sterilized wide-mouthed quart jar. Squeeze the juice of the remaining 4 lemons into the jar. Allow to stand, covered, at least one week on the counter, shaking the bottle each day. Then add more lemon juice to the bottle if necessary and if you like, olive oil to cover.

3. Close the jar and leave out on the counter for at least 3 weeks before using. When using the lemons, merely rinse with water, remove the seeds, and chop up for your recipes.

Yield: 8 preserved lemons

Note: For a flavorful variation, I sometimes add 4 crushed garlic cloves and 1 teaspoon of sweet paprika to the lemons. And for a short cut, freeze the lemons first, then defrost and proceed as above.”

Here’s a video explanation replete with funny Moroccan background music:

You can buy preserved lemons at specialty shops, but it took me all of 20 minutes to pack my jar full of lemons, salt and lemonjuice. Now, all I have to do is wait about a month for them to get preserved.

Here are a few Preserved Lemon recipes;

1.From Serious Eats: Preserved Lemon Citrus Chicken with Chervil Gremolata (There’s a good story by the recipe’s author on this page as well)

2. From The Food Network: Chicken Tagine with Green Olives and Preserved Lemon

3. From The Washington Post: Sauteed String Beans with Garlic and Preserved Lemon

4. From Recipe Zaar: Pine Nut and Preserved Lemon Couscous

Enjoy!

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3 responses to “Preserved Lemons

  1. Although it’s true that preserved lemons are easy to make, the waiting can be a pain if you need some on the fly, and they can be dreadfully expensive in the stores. I find that a combination of lemon juice, lemon zest, ginger, and lemongrass comes very close to emulating the flavor of preserved lemons.

  2. great recipe. i love the tangy flavor of the lemons. never thought it was this easy to make. thanks.
    keith dillon

  3. Thanks for sharing this classic Moroccan method for preserving lemons. Just love the tangy flavor.

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