(above: lemons and peonies)
Oh lemons, I love you. Squeezed in a glass of fizzy water, over fish, in a soup or a wedge of you peeking at me coquettishly from the murky depths of iced tea. Your uses are infinite, and divine. Truly, you are a wonderful fruit.
And now I have found a way to best honor you, by preserving your beauty with salt and spices. That's right, I've cruelly sliced about nine lemons, packed their wounds with salt and squished them into a jar to soften and stew in their own juices. Much like in prison, these lemons have some time to think about what they've done, soften their rinds and strive for a new place in society, as preserved lemons.
I'll be honest with you...I've only consumed lemons of this variety on a few occasions and certainly never made them before. But the idea of them has long haunted my brain, the presumed tastes of salt, tang and sweet dancing on the tip of my tongue. Mostly used in Moroccan dishes like a tajine, preserved lemons have a plethora of uses. Add them to pasta salads, cous-cous, sauteed vegetables, or with roast chicken and fish. I got these suggestions from various internet sources, but mainly comprised my preserving recipe from David Lebovitz and Heidi Swanson of 101 Cookbooks (who got HER recipe from Chez Panisse Fruit, by Alice Waters).
Since I've just prepared them today, they are currently snuggled up in my big Ikea jar where they will patiently release their juices for about 30 days. When they are ready to use, you can be sure I will create some elaborate blog post to debut them. Until then, wish them luck on their journey to spiritual enlightenment.
8-10 organic lemons (since you'll be eating the rinds, try to find lemons that are pesticide-free)
Optional coriander seeds, bay leaf, cinnamon, dried chili pepper
Thoroughly wash your lemons, scrubbing them with a vegetable scrubber.
Now slice off the hard stem part of the lemon. Make four incisions, lengthwise. These should be deep enough to allow you to stuff quite a bit of Kosher salt inside, but not completely slicing it to ribbons. Generously pack each incision with Kosher salt.
Fill a clean jar with the lemons, adding a few more tablespoons of salt at the end. Also, now is the time to add any other spices you may desire. I used coriander and bay leaves, since that's what I had on hand, but I think a chili pepper would be fantastic. Use your discretion. Press the lemons down into the jar to release some juices.
Close airtight lid and wait. They may sit on the countertop for the first few days, as I think this will help them to release more juices- in the end the lemons should be completely submerged in their juices. If in a few days they are still exposed to air, add lemon juice to the jar. You may open them up and squish them a few more times, too.
Refrigerate, and enjoy their tasty rinds (and juices!).