Lemons Preserved in Salt

After several holidays in Morocco, I have come to love these lemons which are used in many of their wonderful tagines (stews cooked in traditional earthenware pots). Slices of pickled lemons and their juice enhance chicken stew, and are good for a spicy lamb casserole which could also include dried fruits such as apricots or prunes. When matured, these lemons donโ€™t taste very salty, and the skin is soft and has lost all bitterness.

Ingredients

  • About 1 kg (2 lb) fairly small lemons, plus about 6 lemons for extra juice
  • About 125 g (4 oz) sea salt

Method

Scrub the lemons thoroughly with soapy water, then rinse well with cold running water and dry. Working over a bowl, cut the lemons lengthwise almost in quarters but stop before you cut right through at the stem end so the fruit still holds together. Remove any pips.

Sprinkle a heaped teaspoon of salt into each lemon then pack very tightly into clean, dry, wide-necked jars, pressing down firmly with a spoon. Pour any juice which escaped while you were cutting the lemons into the jars. The juice should completely cover the lemons: squeeze out more from the extra lemons and use more lemons if necessary.

Put a weight such as a well-washed, suitably shaped stone or small saucer in the top of each jar so that no bits of lemon rise above the juice, then cover the jars and leave at room temperature for 2-3 weeks. When the lemons are ready (the skins will be soft to cut) remove the weight. Once opened keep in the refrigerator and use as necessary.

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