PRESERVED LEMONS

How to make Preserved Lemons by Eliza Ellis

I THINK THIS WEEK IS GOING TO BE UNOFFICIAL LEMON WEEK.
 
It's the peak of lemon season here in Australia, and last weekend I stole  picked a whole tub at Dad's holiday house in the King Valley.




I don't think I've waxed lyrical about the King Valley on the blog yet - I've given it plenty of love on Instagram - but it is, hands down, one of the loveliest parts of Victoria.

Think rolling hills. Mountain backdrops. Dairy cows. Vineyards. Winding country roads. Gorgeous vistas. Everything is always green and vibrant and just..... perfect. Hopefully one day we will build out there. <Sigh>.


King Valley Vista

Anyway, the thing I'm most amazed by are the fruit trees (don't know why, given it's wine country...).

But they grow everywhere and the fruit is perfect.

Like supermarket perfect.

With no sprays, no nets, no love, no nothing - it just seems to grow perfectly.

And for someone who's always making jam and chutneys, it's heaven.


King Valley Blood Plums


In January we had huge white and yellow peaches. In February there were luscious blood plums. And in March there were figs - fat, squishy purple figs. In Autumn we had juicy, drip-off-the-chin pears.

And apples....  a dozen varieties of crisp, bug free apples - mostly found on trees growing on the side of the road.

Now, we have lemons.


Preserved Lemons


And since I have a massive tub full, I'd best do something with them! So I've got some awesome lemon recipes to share over the next week or so - all classics I've been cooking for years now, starting with....

PRESERVED LEMONS:

These are so easy to make, you'll kick yourself if you've ever bought them. Gorgeous with Moroccan inspired dishes, they also give pastas, cous-cous and quinoa a lovely lift.


Preserved Lemons


STEP ONE: You'll need some rock salt, some sterilized preserving jars without metal lids, and some lemons with nice skins (this pic makes mine look terrible!).


Preserved Lemons


STEP TWO: Take half your lemons, cut the hard tips off, and slice into wedges.


Preserved Lemons


STEP THREE: Cover the bottom of your preserving jar with a layer of salt.


Preserved Lemons


STEP FOUR: Dip each wedge of lemon in the salt and pack in the jar. The salt won't cling perfectly to the lemon - don't stress, that's fine and won't affect the outcome.


Preserved Lemons


STEP FIVE: As you add the lemons to the jar, pack more salt around and between them to fill any gaps.


Preserved Lemons


STEP SIX: When the jar is full of lemons, add more salt on top to cover them.


Preserved Lemons


STEP SEVEN: Juice the remaining half of your lemons. Fill your jar with juice, making sure everything is covered - that top lemon in mine kept shifting and popping up - don't be afraid to poke and prod them until they sit nicely and are all covered :)


Preserved Lemons


STEP EIGHT: Make some pretty labels, and store them in the fridge.

Whenever you think of it - once a week or so - give them a bit of a shake to move the liquid around.

After a month or so, the salt crystals will dissolve in the lemon juice, and the liquid will turn opaque and a bit syrupy - this is perfectly normal and means they're ready.


Preserved Lemons


HOW TO USE THEM: Take a wedge from the jar and rinse off the preserving liquid. Remove the 'flesh' part of the wedge and discard. Chop remaining peel as finely as possible. Add to your dish in the same way you would add lemon zest - a little goes a long way.

If you've never cooked with Preserved Lemons before, I would start with a Cous-Cous or pasta salad and add a very little bit - just to get a feeling for their unique flavor :)


So there we go! If you make these, I'd love to hear how you go - or see some pics on Instagram!

You can find more of my Unofficial Lemon Week recipes here:

Salad Days: Three Lemon Dressings
Classic Lemon Butter
No-Bake Lemon Slice
Homemade Lemon Cordial
Simple Gremolata

All the best,

Eliza.


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