Preserved lemons

Preserved lemons

By
From
A Lot on Her Plate
Makes
1 large jar
Photographer
Helen Cathcart

After simple preparation, all you need is a little bit of patience for the salt to work its magic before you can enjoy the brilliantly intense flavour of these preserved lemons. They are completely worth the wait! The first time I made them, I became obsessed with the salty, deep citrus edge they brought to my dishes, and worked through the jar in no time at all. While strongly associated with Middle Eastern cuisine and tagines, I find I use them for all sorts of things, from seasoning hot oil when frying off seafood, to making sauces for pasta dishes and salad dressings. I’d really encourage you to make a jar; it’s a beautiful thing, and also makes a fantastic gift for friends.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
130g flaky sea salt
100g caster sugar
1 sprig thyme, leaves picked
5 large unwaxed, organic lemons, scrubbed
1 tablespoon olive oil

Special equipment

Quantity Ingredient
1 large preserving jar, approximately 800 ml capacity

Method

  1. Sterilise the jar by putting it through a hot dishwasher cycle or washing it in hot, soapy water, rinsing well and drying it in a hot oven for 10 minutes.
  2. Mix the salt, sugar and thyme in a bowl. Slice the lemons very finely, removing and discarding the pips as you go. Have the sterilised jar ready, and scatter a pinch of the salt and sugar mixture on the bottom. Then take the lemon slices and dip one side in the salt and sugar mixture. Layer them, salty side down in the jar. Repeat the dipping and layering, occasionally scattering over some more of the salt and sugar mixture, and pressing the layers down to squeeze in the remaining lemon slices, until you’ve reached the top of the jar. By the end, the juice and brine should completely cover the lemon slices. Top with the olive oil, ensuring that none of the lemon is in contact with the air, and seal the jar. Store in the fridge for 2–3 months, waiting at least 1 week before opening it.
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