April 25, 2013

Preserved Lemons (Using What I Have II)

I have actually been to the store since the last post about using up ingredients I already have.

But it was cold again and I was feeling particularly lazy after a long work week. I remembered having a discussion with a friend about preserved lemons recently and decided to make some use out of the ones I made a while back.  Although they start out as just lemons and salt, preserved lemons take on an oil-like texture. I like to mix them into salads like tabouleh, to impart their intense saltiness and tartness, but also to give the salad richness.

On the other hand, I'm fresh out of sun-ripened tomatoes and just-picked cucumbers at this time of year, so I came up with a quick salad from, uh, the pantry. I promise it was still good for me.

See?  Chick peas, greens, and tuna.  Easy-peasy and tasted good, too.  I realize that my pantry may have a couple items in it that the average person does not, like pickled cherries. However, preserved lemons are easy to make, requiring just lemons, salt, and time, so I've included the recipe for them along with this salad.  If you're into spending money, you can purchase them at a specialty foods store for something like $8 for two or three lemons.


  • 10 lemons - organic is strongly suggested
  • 1/2 cup sea salt or canning salt (no added iodine)
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 4 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 t. whole black peppercorns
  • sterilized glass quart canning jar, preferably Weck*

Wash half of the lemons in warm water, scrubbing to remove wax. Rinse and dry well, then cut off a thin slice from each end.  Starting at the stem end, quarter each lemon lengthwise just until you reach the other end of the lemon, but do not cut all the way through.  Remove seeds as you come across them, but you don't have to be meticulous.  Juice the remaining five lemons until you get 1 1/2 cups fresh juice.

Measure a tablespoon of salt into the bottom of the jar.  Working over a bowl, stuff each quartered lemon with about a tablespoon of salt.  As you go, pack each one into the jar, open end up.  Once three have been packed, tuck the bay leaves, cinnamon, and peppercorns down the sides. If you're like me, you will attempt to make a pretty arrangement.  Pack the last two lemons and cover them with the remaining salt, including whatever salt and pulp fell into the bowl while working.  Fill the jar with the lemon juice, leaving about 1/2 inch head space.

Place lid on jar and, if using a standard Mason jar, tighten to "fingertip tight." If you don't know what this means, you are new to canning and preserving. Ask me in the comments and I'll explain.

Place the jar in a cool, dark place for two weeks - but somewhere you'll remember to give the jar a daily shake. After two weeks, your lovely preserved lemons are ready, but I'm pretty sure they'll last indefinitely in the fridge. I'm choosing not to admit when I actually made my current batch.

*Weck jars are perfect for this project, because the lids are made of glass and clamp onto the jar with a rubber seal.  The less chance any metal has in coming in contact with the lemons, the better.

  • 1 can chick peas
  • 1 can tuna
  • 1 quarter preserved lemon, pulp removed
  • leftover cooked greens or veg
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Drain and rinse chick peas well in a colander. Toss in a medium bowl with drained tuna and leftover vegetables.  Stir in enough olive oil to lightly coat the ingredients.  Chop preserved lemon finely and mix into salad.  Salt and pepper to taste.  That's it!

About two servings.

You may want to give the empty tuna can to your cat, so that she can push it around with her nose and entertain you while you're eating.

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