With citrus season upon us, it can be difficult to use up a surplus of the tart fruits. This recipe allows you to enjoy the fresh acidity of the season’s highly coveted Meyer lemons year round. Created out of necessity in Northern Africa, preserved lemons provide a signature flavor profile of Moroccan cuisine. Whether in chicken bastilla or adding floral notes to couscous or brightness to harissa, it is essential to the balance of those dishes. Outside of Moroccan food, preserved lemons have many other applications. Puree them into vinaigrette for a new spin on your favorite salad dressing or roast them with chicken or fish. The rind/zest can be finely minced and added to rice or other grains. The inner flesh can be used in sauces or marinades (make sure to remove the seeds!). Be creative and have fun with it.
Preserved Meyer Lemons
12 whole Meyer lemons
12 Meyer lemons, juiced
2# kosher salt, plus more to top off the lemons if needed
1# evaporated cane sugar
Cut the tops off each side of the lemons and then cut ¾ of the way lengthwise down the lemon. Mix the salt and sugar together. Pack the lemons in a very clean and sterilized mason jar or plastic food container with the sugar and salt mixture. Pour the lemon juice over the lemons and top off with remaining sugar and salt mixture or additional salt if needed. Allow the lemons to sit at room temperature for a month until the sugar and salt have dissolved and the lemons are fragrant and slightly funky. Store in the refrigerator for up to a year.
**The preservation process mellows the bitterness of the lemon peel and creates floral aromas and flavors. Try this technique with other citrus, just keep in mind that fruit such as oranges do not have as high acidity as lemons, so you may want to add lemon juice in place of that fruit’s juice. When the lemons are properly preserved, the peel and flesh should separate very easily. Be sure to remove as much of the pith (the white part between the flesh and zest) as you can, as it can be bitter.