Lemon juice is probably the most common form of acid I use in recipes. While I may have to buy bottled juice when they are out of season, I also regularly use the zest, it imparts a lemony flavour without the sourness. Throughout the winter our tree supplied us with a steady supply of fresh lemons, come spring, we had a tree laden with ripe lemons, ready all at once. We harvested 8 buckets full, to preserve them there are a number of different methods, each perfect for different recipes.
What to do…
- First, wash all the lemons
- Sort and Grade them
- The least ripe and unblemished ones can be kept in the fridge for quite a long time
- Unblemished lemons can be zested before juicing
- Ripe lemons with unblemished skin can be preserved
- Overripe and blemished lemons can be juiced
There are over 1 million search results for juicing lemons and the perfect juicing method. Whether you use a press or juicer to squeeze them, you’ll extract more juice if you roll the lemon, pressing firmly under your hand, against a hard surface before juicing, this breaks the lemon’s membranes. Store some fresh juice in the fridge for short term use and freeze the rest in ice cube trays, then store the cubes in freezer bags. I like to make 15ml/ 1Tbsp cubes, then they are pre-measured for use in recipes.
Use a peeler, zester or sharp knife to remove the zest, make sure to avoid the pith as this will add a bitterness to any recipe you use the zest in. To preserve zest you can freeze it or dehydrate and store in an airtight jar or vac pack for long term storage.
Preserved lemons are a common ingredient in Middle Eastern and North African Recipes, but are also delicious in pasta dishes, grain salads and dressings.
You will need:
Sterilised Preserving jars – reusing jars may be okay, though they may crack when being sterilised as they aren’t as necessarily fit for purpose
Salt – rock salt is commonly used to preserve lemons, though sea salt is used by some chefs. I use a medium ground rock salt or coarse Himalayan salt.
Lemons – washed and blemish-free
Optional – bay leaves, pickling spice or cinnamon quills
What to do:
- Over a bowl, cut lemons lengthwise into quarters, stopping about 5mm short of the stem end.
- Sprinkle 1 heaped teaspoon of salt inside the cut lemon, rub to cover the surfaces.
- Add a layer of salt to the base of a sterilised jar
- Pack lemons tightly in the jar, sprinkling a layer of salt between each lemon.
- Add the bay leaves, pickling spice or cinnamon if desired, I tend to make on jar plain, one spiced.
- Pour any juice captured when cutting the lemons into the jar, top up with squeezed lemon juice, you can add some water if you don’t have enough. Make sure the lemons are covered
- Seal the jar/s and store in a cool, dark cupboard for 3- 4 weeks, turning the jars periodically to distribute the salt and juice evenly, do this again before opening.
- Refrigerate once open.