Moroccan Salt-Preserved Lemons

Before societies had the access to refrigerators, we used some brilliant methods to brine, pickle and cure our food to make it last longer. People quickly found out that bacteria has a hard time living in very salty environments, so naturally people began drying and salt-curing foods to add to their shelf life.
However, the salt also seemed to alter texture and flavour. Today, Anders Vestergaard is is going to teach you a very cool way to pickle lemons, using only salt, that allows you to actually consume the very delicious zest of the lemon as well :)

Salt-preserved lemons in a jar with a date mark   Ingredients:

  • a jar that fits 2 lemons
  • 2 lemons
  • 160 grams of salt
  • Optional spices: Cinnamon sticks, fresh chilis, sumac, cardamom pods.

Here’s how you make the pickles:

  1. Sterilize your canning jar according to these instructions.
  2. Rinse your lemons and cut an ”X” into them from the top to the bottom, making sure not to cut all the way through.
  3. ”Open” the lemons and add a tablespoon of salt in their core.
  4. Start filling the jar with the lemons. Make sure to pack them in very, very tightly. Use a clean wooden spatula to really cram them in and extract their juices. You can add spices along the way to add character to the lemons.
  5. Once the jar is full, the liquid from the lemons should almost cover them completely. If not, see if you can squeeze them a tiny bit more to cover them in their juice. If your lemons are a bit underripe or simply not filled with a lot of liquid, you can squeeze in a bit of fresh lemon juice. It’s very important that the lemons are completely covered to avoid the growth of mould.
  6. Before closing the lid, add an extra tablespoon of salt for every lemon you have put in. Close the lid and place on your shelf, away from direct sunlight. The lemons are ready to be eaten after three weeks but only get better with time. Make sure to place in your refrigerator after opening.

Now, it’s time time to enjoy the fruits of your labor. With a clean fork, grab a lemon from the jar and wash under cold water. This removes any extra salt. Open the lemon and cut away the soft flesh and the white pith of the lemon. This part is too salty and bitter. Now, you’re left with delicious, beautifully translucent lemon rind. You can now use it however you like. In fresh summer salads, as a flavour booster in soups or sauces. You can slice it very thin and use it as a garnish or throw it in a rich, spicy tagine-recipe to amp up the citrus flavour.