the process of preserving lemons with salt

Lemon juice is the most common form of acid I use in recipes. While I buy bottled juice when lemons are out of season, I also love to use the zest. The zest 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 a couple of washing buckets full. When preserving lemons I use a number of different methods, this ensures I have lemon flavours available for different recipes all year-round. Lemons preserved in salt are perfect for dressings, salads or Middle Eastern inspired recipes such as Pomegranate Tofu or add to Tabbouleh. I use juice and zest to balance sweetness with berries, and in many other recipes too.

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

Juicing Lemons

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 first. Press the lemon firmly under your hand against a hard surface and roll 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. Make 15ml/ 1Tbsp cubes, then they are pre-measured for easy use in recipes.

Zesting Lemons

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

Preserving lemons with salt is common practice for use in Middle Eastern and North African Recipes such as Tagines and couscous.

You will need:

Sterilised Preserving jars – reusing condiment and jam 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:

  1. Over a bowl, cut lemons lengthwise into quarters, stopping about 5mm short of the stem end.
  2. Sprinkle 1 heaped teaspoon of salt inside the cut lemon, rub to cover the surfaces.
  3. Add a layer of salt to the base of a sterilized jar
  4. Pack lemons tightly in the jar, sprinkling a layer of salt between each lemon.
  5. Add the bay leaves, pickling spice or cinnamon if desired, I tend to make on jar plain, one spiced.
  6. 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
  7. Seal the jar/s and store in a cool, dark cupboard for 3- 4 weeks. Turn the jars periodically to distribute the salt and juice evenly, and then again before opening.
  8. Refrigerate once open.

Other vegetables that are simple to preserve are Carrots and Asparagus

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