DIY: Preserved Lemons

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do you like moroccan food?

i will confess, i don't know much about moroccan food. but i do know my way around a tagine. it's like a stew. my roomie and bff after college and i made many a tagine. it was in our cooking light repertoire of chicken tacos, quesadilla, bbq chicken pizza, quesadilla, chicken tagine, repeat.

it was a lot of bock bock. i always had to handle the raw chicken. she was queen of the deli rotisserie chicken.

that division of labor is still true when we have girls nights.  but these days, we've stepped it up. you know what really belongs in tagine? lamb. glorious lamb.

but i'm getting ahead of myself.

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preserved lemons. a signature flavor of moroccan food, but wikipedia also tells me it's common in indian and cambodian food. who knew?

as a part of my insane DIY christmas, i made preserved lemons. along with pretty things like these:

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so much infused vodka was consumed in the celebration of baby jesus this year.

back to the lemons. this was ridiculously easy to execute. slice your lemons in four . . . but not all the way. apply salt. lots of salt.

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really get in there. curse as the salt and lemon juice gets all up in your ragged-when-will-i-ever-grow-up-and-stop-picking-at-my-cuticles cuticles.

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jam them in your jars. with lemon juice . . . bay leaf . . . cumin seeds. more salt. we are preserving here.

cumin is a bit of mercurial spice. the seeds look like bugs and smell like old gym socks. the right amount adds a lovely dusty earthiness to a dish. too much and you're back to the gym socks.

i had to slice little wedges out of my lemons to get two to fit in the mason jar. i just added the slices right on top. you could probably just quarter the things and they'd turn out ok, but i haven't tried it.

most recipes are going to have you use just the rinds, chopped up, so you want to leave them in large enough pieces that it's easy to scoop out the flesh.

preserved lemon rind . . . salty, tangy. like an olive but with a brighter, cleaner, lighter flavor. 

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I'll be back with a tagine recipe for you to use these bad boys soon!

Preserved Lemons

  • 3-4 large lemons
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/4 + 4 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds

Take two lemons, slice lengthwise twice, as if you are quartering the lemon, but leave the last inch of the lemon intact.

Sprinkle about a tablespoon or two of kosher salt into each lemon.

Or, just quarter the lemons and toss with salt. Whatever takes your fancy.

Juice the other two lemons. Really, you're just looking to fill the jar.  It will depend on the size of your lemons, obviously. You're welcome for that incredible, very clear advice.

Add about 1/8 a cup of salt and juice of one lemon to the jar.  Stir to try to dissolve the juice a little. Add one lemon, then about half the cumin seeds and one bay leaf.  Repeat. Top with another 1/8 cup of salt.  Fill up jar with lemon juice.

Screw on the lid!  Give it a good shake!  Give the jar another good shake every day for the next two weeks, and you're good to go. If you plan to keep them around longer than a few weeks, store in the refrigerator.

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