Preserved lemons may never be as commonplace to American cooks as pesto, which was once unknown outside of immigrant Italian homes. But who can say? A salty, fragrant ingredient with a hint of sweetness. Stranger things have happened. Maybe the day will come when the thought of dark greens brings preserved lemon trailing behind. And not just with greens, how about a chilled crab salad with preserved lemon? Or as a contrapuntal note in risotto with guanciale. That day has already arrived at our house. Once upon a time most Americans venturing into the world of these strange, salted citrus fruit needed a culinary anthropologist like Paula Wolfert to tell us what to do with them. No longer. Any time we need a bright, sharp flavor accent with something floral, we think preserved lemon. For seafood, for pork, for chicken, for lamb. Oddly, about the only thing we don’t have with preserved lemon is beef. But I’m open to suggestions, if you have a good one. In the meantime, if you’re someone who’s always wanted to make your own Preserved Lemons, Limes and Kumquats, this is the post for you.
We call for preserved lemons as an ingredient fairly often in The Garum Factory and until now we’ve deferred from sharing our recipe. It’s not a secret; it’s just that you can Google up a recipe in about 15 seconds. But not all of them are the same–some use more salt, some less; some add extra flavorings, some don’t. Some say they’re ready to use in a week; some say 6 weeks. Darya, over at Tortore, prodded me into action with her recent post on preserved kumquats (be sure to scroll down for the English version), which seemed intuitively brilliant to me. I imagined their taste, and how appealing they would be to photograph. And if you’re going to do kumquats, why skip over limes? Also, we wanted to pay tribute to Talib Aboumoudriq, longtime valuable member of the Rialto staff, who recently left the restaurant to open his own business. Talib made Rialto’s preserved lemons for the better part of a decade, using his mother’s recipe.
I couldn’t write a post about preserved lemons without including a visit withTalib in his new venture, the Medford Deli. lt’s a neighborhood sandwich shop that does a little catering on the side. Elaborate Italian glass bottles containing olives and peppers in oil share a glass counter top with something I doubt many of his customers could readily identify – a two-gallon jar of preserved lemons. They don’t really figure into the deli cuisine, unless you include some of the dishes Talib offers as catering specials, but I think the large jar of preserved lemons is a connection for Talib and his partner in the deli, Tahar Benalia, to the land of their birth. “Preserved lemons were very important in my neighborhood,” Talib tells me. “Every family made them.” He’s talking about Marrakech, not Medford. Both sweet and sour lemons grow in Morocco, and both are preserved, but Talib is adamant that sweet Meyer lemons preserve best. Secondly, no “extras” like a cinnamon stick , bay leaves or coriander seeds should figure into the recipe. “Other people do that,” he said, shaking his head. “Not us.” Over the years Jody and I have taken Talib’s advice to shun those variations. We use the lemons so often in so many different ways that we want the lemon flavor to be simple–and universal. Anything extra might be limiting. We can always add cinnamon or a bay leaf later. Talib also disagrees with the standard advice of using just the skin of the preserved lemon and discarding the pulp. “Use everything,” he advises. He frowned when I told him that we planned on preserving limes and kumquats as well as lemons. “Kumquats will be good,” he said. “But the limes. . . ” More head shaking. “Too sour for me. Their skin is too thick. They take too long to be ready.” Even key limes? He shrugged. “Maybe.”
A lunchtime stream of customers was starting to come through the door. I have a couple of good photos of Talib. Time to wrap it up. So what is his own favorite use for preserved lemon? Something traditional like lamb tagine? He surprises me. “Grilled chicken,” he says. “Try it–you’ll like it.”
I have no doubt. Enjoy. Ken
JUICE TIPS: The most daunting part of making preserved lemons is squeezing lemons for juice. An average lemon contains 3 tablespoons of juice, so in the recipe for Preserved Lemons you’ll need about 11 lemons for juice (2 cups), in addition to the 10 Meyer lemons for preserving. Not to state the obvious, but if you’re going to squeeze your own lemons, give your hands a break and use a juicer. At a minimum, a cup and reamer like the glass one (for lemons) or the bartender’s friend (for limes) you see in the photos. A large drop handle one on a stand with a reamer makes juicing easy. If all of that is just too much to consider, buy organic bottled lemon juice made from 100% fresh juice, not concentrate, containing no preservatives.
USING PRESERVED LEMONS OR OTHER CITRUS: We recommend that people allow their preserved lemons to cure for a month, unrefrigerated, before using. Smaller citrus may finish sooner. No harm will accrue if you wait an extra week or two, but if you use them too early you won’t get the full effect. In a salad or other dishes with distinct components, diced skin of the lemon works best; in a more homogenous dish with a liquid medium–soup, stew, risotto–you can use both the skin and the pulp. Be sure to chop the pulp. Always use tongs or some other implement to retrieve a preserved lemon from a jar to avoid contaminating the jar. I’ve read claims that preserved lemons can last up to two years, but personally we’ve never come near being able to test that limit. A batch of 10 lemons will usually last us about 6 months. While you can refrigerate them after the initial curing period if counter space is an issue, it’s unnecessary. We leave ours out.
RECIPES WITH PRESERVED LEMON: Here are a few to get you started. After you’ve used them in a few dishes you’ll soon begin finding uses for them on your own (tuna salad, anyone?). Israeli Couscous with Red Snapper and Preserved Lemon, Lamb Stew with Chickpeas, Preserved Lemon and Saffron, Turkey Risotto with Preserved Lemon and Saffron, Steel-Cut Oats with Eggs, Preserved Lemon and Olives, Skordalia with Parsley Salad, Artichokes Braised with Anchovies and Preserved Lemon
Note: Cut a disk out of a plastic storage lid that will fit snugly over the lemons once they’re in the jar (see photos).
- 10 Meyer lemons
- 1 cup coarse sea salt
- 2 cups freshly squeezed lemon juice (11 conventional lemons)
- Scrub the lemons with a course cloth to remove any waxy coating. Set a lemon on it’s end. Cut in half from top to bottom, leaving ½ inch at the bottom uncut. Cut perpendicular to the first cut, again leaving ½ inch at the bottom uncut, creating quarters. Repeat with the remaining lemons.
- Be sure your hands are very clean.
- Working over a bowl, hold a lemon, cut side up, in one hand. Pour a tablespoon of salt into the lemon and squeeze to hold the salt. Squish the lemon back and forth to release the juices. Put into a sterile bail-lid glass jar with a gasket. Repeat with the remaining lemons.
- Pour the salt and juice that have collected in the bowl over the lemons. Add the freshly squeezed lemon juice. Cover with the lid and seal. Turn the jar back and forth to help the salt dissolve.
- Open the jar and slip the plastic disk on top of the lemons to help keep them submerged. Flip the lid closed and reseal.
- Leave the fruit at coolish room temperature for 30 days. Turn the jar back and forth every day or so to make sure that no surfaces remain exposed.
- Rinse the lemons before using or use straight from the jar. Whenever you make a recipe with preserved lemon go easy on the salt until after you’ve added the lemon, especially if it’s unrinsed. Always use tongs or a fork, not your fingers, to remove a lemon from the jar. Bacteria from your skin can contaminate a batch.
Note: cut a disk out of a plastic storage lid that will fit snugly over the limes once they’re in the jar (see photos).
- 8 limes
- ¾ cup coarse sea salt
- 1½ cups freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice (8 conventional lemons or 12 limes)
- Scrub the limes with a course cloth to remove any waxy coating. Set a lime on it’s end. Cut in half from top to bottom, leaving ½ inch at the bottom uncut. Cut perpendicular to the first cut, again leaving ½ inch at the bottom uncut, creating quarters. Repeat with the remaining limes.
- Be sure your hands are very clean.
- Working over a bowl, hold a lime, cut side up, in one hand. Pour a tablespoon of salt into the lime and squeeze to hold the salt. Squish the lime back and forth to release the juices. Put into a sterile bail-lid glass jar with a gasket. Repeat with the remaining limes.
- Pour the salt and juice that have collected in the bowl over the limes. Add the freshly squeezed lime or lemon juice. Cover with the lid and seal. Turn the jar back and forth to help the salt dissolve.
- Open the jar and slip the plastic disk on top of the limes to help keep them submerged. Flip the lid closed and reseal.
- Leave the fruit at cool room temperature for 30 days. Turn the jar back and forth every day or so.
- Rinse the limes before using or use straight from the jar.
Note: Cut a disk out of a plastic storage lid that will fit snugly over the kumquats once they’re in the jar (see photos).
- 14 Kumquats
- ¼ cup coarse sea salt
- ½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (3 conventional lemons)
- Scrub the kumquats with a course cloth to remove any waxy coating. Set a kumquat on its end. Cut in half from top to bottom, leaving ½ inch at the bottom uncut. Unlike with lemons and limes, you just make one cut, so the kumquat is halved rather than quartered. Just halving them helps them remain intact during curing. Repeat with the remaining kumquats.
- Be sure your hands are very clean.
- Working over a bowl, hold a kumquat, cut side up, in one hand. Pour a teaspoon of salt into the kumquat and squeeze to hold the salt. Gently squish the kumquat back and forth to release the juices. Put it into a small sterile bail-lid glass jar with a gasket. Repeat with the remaining kumquats.
- Pour the salt and juice that have collected in the bowl over the kumquats. Add the freshly squeezed lemon juice. Cover with the lid and seal. Turn the jar back and forth to help the salt dissolve.
- Open the jar and slip the plastic disk on top of the kumquats to help keep them submerged. Flip the lid closed and reseal.
- Leave the fruit at coolish room temperature for 10 days. Turn the jar back and forth every day or so.
- Rinse the kumquats before using or use straight from the jar.
Recipes for preserved lemons are all over the highway in terms of salt and fresh lemon juice. The recipe for preserved lemons in our cookbook, IN THE HANDS OF A CHEF, is adapted from the one Talib taught us at Rialto, but if you happen to have a copy of the book you’ll notice that we use more salt than in the recipes above. At the time we wrote the book we were using large, conventional California lemons with thick rinds and we used about 3 tablespoons of salt per lemon. We have since switched to Meyer lemons, which are much smaller, thinner skinned, and with a more delicate flavor, so I cut back on the amount of salt . A survey of preserved lemon recipes will give you a vast range of salt, with little explanation of the reasoning behind the amounts. The one correspondence I’ve found is that the recipes with the most salt often use very little additional juice. I like using extra lemon juice, despite the extra effort involved, because it helps keep the fruit soft and bright in color.
What a great reminder to do this in the midst of citrus season. I agree–no cinnamon, cloves or bay leaves, but pure lemon. I think there must be a way to use with beef (I’ll get back to you on that–brisket maybe?) On a more mundane note–preserved lemons really perk up tuna salad! Terrific photos!
Hi, Sally–True, although I have to say, we’re usually running out by the end of the summer. Grilled bluefish or lamb with either a relish made from preserved lemons, or garlic-yogurt sauce with bits of preserved lemon are the two main variations. At some point we’re driven to switch to Romesco. Brisket sounds possible, and glad you liked the photos. Ken
I am trying to imagine what preserved limes would taste like, must be delicious, and yet they are so different from lemons. My jar of kumquats is still unopened, I want to wait at least another couple of weeks before opening it. And thanks for mentioning me by the way! I am glad you gave it a go, and cannot wait to see what delicious recipes you will come up with that call for preserved kumquats. And your pictures are so beautiful, as always!
Hi, Darya–It was a pleasure to reference you. I hope lots of people discover all of the interesting food on your blog. I have no worries about imagining what to do with the kumquats–chicken salad, tuna salad, white bean or chickpea salad. Fish en papillote (fresh sardines!). Finally, how about dicing one with some roasted red pepper or raw celery and serving it as a side for paté or hard cheese? Believe me, you’ll figure it out. :-) As regards the limes, we found some key limes in a market this morning–they’re already salted. I have big plans for the limes – two things in mind – you’ll have to wait for the posts. :-) Ken
Oh, I had thought of associating the kumquats with chicken or fish, but not of the white bean and/or chickpea salad! That is a great idea, and definitely something I’ll try (I’m sure chunks of crunchy celery or fennel would work in such a salad as well). I never think of serving anything alongside cheese or pâté, I am so used to eating them on their own with just a piece of bread, but those suggestions sound delicious, thank you! And I will patiently wait for the lime recipes…
Getting back to you now that I have opened my jar of preserved kumquats: inspired by your suggestions, I made a white bean and chicken salad with red onion, celery, and preserved kumquats and it was delicious! I am so happy I dared make these and they will be perfect with the tajine I have been dreaming of since making these. Now I wish I had made more, but I am afraid I won’t find any good looking kumquats at this time of the year. I will have to compensate with a couple of jars of preserved lemons instead.
While beans sound great! Try preserving some limes – we tasted ours for the first time yesterday and they’re really good.
I am reeling from the sheer visual onslaught of this post … it is sooooo beautiful! so uplifting … one can almost smell the scents and fragrance! You should make a poster of this post and send it to hospitals … to cheer up the patients. Lovely ,lovely, lovely inspiring post. Thank you!
Thank you, Jo. The nice thing about photographing citrus fruit is that it’s like having the SMALL box of crayons – just primary colors. It’s hard not to make them beautiful, but thank you nonetheless. Ken
Lovely, and go Paula Wolfert…! I often leaf through her Mediterranean Grains and Greens. I love potting up lemons in this way but find they go ‘off’ – mouldy and dank – if not properly submerged in the salt juice. I often find they need a good punching down and deflating, but I’m probably not using enough juice in the first place to keep them submerged. Thank you for your veritable museum of beautiful citrus images. Sophie
Hi, Sophie–That’s so interesting about your lemons. Were you referring to ones you made in England or California? One can imagine a shivering jar of preserved lemons in England, moaning with longing for the sirocco–and low humidity. In which case extra juice would be de rigeur. But in California… they should feel (mostly) right at home. Thanks for the nice words about the photos. Ken
What a lovely post. We love preserved lemons & eat them a lot in both savoury & sweet food. I am intrigued by the preserved limes. How do they taste & what will you use them for?
I don’t know yet, although I’ve got a couple of ideas. I’m going to wait until I can compare the regular ones with the key limes before I make a definite decision. Ken
Beautiful pictures! Absolutely stunning!
Thank you, Radhika. I’m happy you like them. Ken
Great colourful pictures! I preserved lemons about 1.5 years ago, because a recipe asked for it. Then they sat there for a few weeks, and by then I’d forgotten what I wanted to use them for… The other day I took the jar and was intent on chucking them out, because everthing inside the jar seems to have gotten a brownish tinge. Only now the jar won’t open again.
Do you know how long they’ll keep in an unopen jar? And do mine sound as if they’ve gone off?
Hmmm…. I make it a rule never to diagnose from afar. However, going brown isn’t something I’ve ever seen before. On rare occasions I’ve seen a white lace-like crust form, which I think is just salt precipitating out from the lemon juice. You just rinse it off and keep going. I think I’d make a fresh batch. And if you live someplace humid I’d make sure to keep them covered with juice. Ken
Wonderful post. What size ball jar do you use for the lemons?
I believe it’s a gallon. But I’d buy a bag of Meyer lemons, walk into the kitchen supply store and see if your bag (or 10 lemons’ worth) will fit inside. Ken
I so need this color in my life wintry life right now. Thanks! Do you need to do anything special to prep the jars before filling them?
No, but they should be absolutely clean, which for us means washing them with a soap and hot water. I think you guys would really like these – especially with spelt or chickpeas. Start with the lemons and, if you’re really driven, the kumquats. Let me know how it goes. Just remember to use a juicer or you’ll want to quit way before you’ve got enough. Ken
I do want to try this. I predict that in 2015 preserved lemons will be the new collards that were the new kale in 2013. ;)
Wait, collards were the new kale? I thought cauliflower was the new kale?
Honest mistake. Cauliflower THOUGHT it was the new kale. ;P
First Darya, now you? I didn’t realize that preserved citrus was such a big thing. I really hadn’t seen it until I bought the Jerusalem cookbook. Now I feel like I need to do this ASAP. I hope you and Darya start posting recipes I can use this with. The limes are probably going to be amazing. Your shots are beautiful, so vivid and colorful. Thanks for this post and please please follow up with useful recipes!
Amanda–You make me think you’re not devouring every line with the attention it deserves. :-) Scroll down past my introduction and right above the photo of fruit in the colander is a RECIPES WITH PRESERVED LEMON section – there are links to 6 recipes there. Have fun. Ken
Omg. You are so right. I am still at work but I was awaiting your response eagerly. This post will be a huge resource for me starting when these things are ready. I spoke too soon. I usually go back and read more carefully when im following your step by step.
I wrote about these recently too following our summer in morocco last year. I love the idea of the kumquats done this way. So cute
Lucky you! It’s on my list. I keep finding myself in places Puglia and gazing south. Someday… We have great hopes for the kumquats. I’m also thinking about trying it with Buddha’s Hand, since that’s almost all citrus rind. Ken
Hi, I thought my comment from this morning got sent but guess not!
My favorite: rillettes de lapin with those capers with tiny tails and mini-dice of preserved lemon. Consumed regularly at auberge Flora, which (I can’t believe my luck) opened 2 doors down from my building bd Richard Lenoir. Flora Makula even made me a kilo to bring to Menerbes at Christmas… Love and thanks!
Oh my God–rabbit rillettes! You just can’t help one-upping the rest rest of us eating tuna salad, can you? :-) Auberge Flora only 2 doors down. Sigh… I syncope between hating and being desperately jealous of Parisians. I’d say I’d bring you some in June, but given TSA restrictions these days I’m pretty sure I couldn’t get them on an airplane, and putting them in my suitcase would be tempting fate. We’ll just have to make a batch at Ménerbes. Ken
But we have no meyer lemons here…ça va mieux? ;-) bisous, a
True, but we’ve made perfectly respectable PL’s with regular lemons. Given the large North African presence in France these days I’m surprised that you don’t have SOME kind of sweet lemon available, since they have them in Morocco. Anyway, regular lemons will work fine. Bisous back. Ken
These photographs alone are making me salivate! I inhaled involuntarily, in the hope of catching the fresh beautiful smells I just know were coming from those fruit!
Preserved lemons are a little strange in the way they subvert expectations of fresh/sweet/sour/savory. But they are wonderful, with a floral brightness all their own. Glad the photos got you. Ken
What amazing timing you always have! I just got the Jerusalem cookbook for Christmas but then I moved, so it’s been a whirlwind of packing and unpacking. Just found it last night and put it on my kitchen counter to remind myself to pick a few recipes and get to the store tomorrow. I remembered when I made one recipe from there last summer, I needed preserved lemons but didn’t have the time, so just used regular lemons, of course it wasn’t the same, so this is great, still I’ll need 30 days to use them, but no time like the present to start, thanks again!!
I think you’ll find they’re worth the investment. They figure in a lot of North African cuisine, as well as being one of the tools in the Ottolenghi kit. But aside from that, they’re like having a new tool to play with. I guarantee that if you make them you’ll be thinking about them the way people think about hot red pepper flakes. You’ll also be thinking about saffron, because the combination of the two is one of the world’s great flavor marriages. Ken
I can’t wait to make them, thanks again for all of the advice and encouragement. I am one who has the red pepper flakes out all the time, so this will be great. And I absolutely adore saffron, so nice reminder that I need to pick some of that up, too.
Oh and meant to add, I noticed someone commented above about caulflower, since I got the Rialto newsletter earlier that is already on my list to roast this weekend. Very nice synergy!!
Jody was testing the recipe last one night this last week and we blew through a head of cauliflower – just the two of us – like nobody’s business. My only regret is that the recipe went out in the newsletter so we won’t be using it here. Ken
I enjoyed reading all about preserved citrus and the role preserved lemons hold in American food culture. Of course, looking at your fantastic photos, Jody and Ken, is such a treat, as well. We eat myriad vegetables, fish and grain around here… and would benefit from adding preserved anything to brighten our dishes. Thanks for sharing – and have a great weekend. Best, Shanna
You can find plenty of uses for them in Ottolenghi, with primarily a vegatarian spin, and very healthy besides. You sound like you eat healthier than we do! Ken
Oh, my, what beautiful colors! I’m embarrassed to say that we’ve made preserved lemons before but never found sufficient uses for them. But it was ages ago, so I know we need to try again. And kumquats, too! (I love the photo of your Moroccan friend. It made me laugh because I recently took photos of a chef here in Louisville for Steve’s Eater gig and, though I wasn’t using a flash, the guy’s eyes were closed in nearly every shot. But not with so much good effect as Talib’s!)
Ha! You know what–my first round with preserved lemons was the same. I made them, had them in a few VERY complicated recipes from Paula Wolfert, then said, okay that was nice, and didn’t do anything with them again for years, when I rediscovered them in Claudia Roden and began popping them into places that just seemed appropriate. There are still things in Claudia Roden I want to try but haven’t gotten to–they’re like Conrad novels, I want to have something left for my dottage. In any event, we go through phases where it seems that everything we eat has preserved lemon (and saffron) in it, then we give them a rest, then we start up again. Re: the photo. I was using a flash and I had to take the photo several times before I could catch Talib with his eyes closed. I’m not sure he quite got why I wanted him to do it, but he was a good sport. Ken
You nailed it. It WAS Paula Wolfert who made me do it! And that’s too funny about the photos. Obviously, I should have been trying for the eyes closed look!
OK, this is crazy. Is there some sort of bloggers’ ESP? I came home from the store 15 min. ago with 2 big bags of Meyer’s Lemons, determined to learn how to make Preserved Lemons. I was going to check the internet to get a visual, but before I got there I went to my WP Reader…there was your post! Voilà! Recipes and visuals courtesy of your site! Hey, thanks so much; it’s like you read my mind! :-) You guys are awesome!
Isn’t that grand? The same thing happened to me last night. I bought all of this food–chard and chickpeas notably because they’re the kinds of things we cook and then leave in the fridge for everyone to assemble meals on the go. Anyway, today’s post took longer to put to bed than I thought and I only managed to cook the chickpeas. A Recipe for Gluttony left a kind remark this morning and I visited their blog to check things out–where I stumbled on–surprise!–a recipe for an amazing chard and chickpea soup made with coconut milk. The over-mind at work. :-) Ken
Thanks for a tested recipe, I’ve had a couple of trials that were a bit meh, or went a bit, um, funny. Though I don’t know if kumquats would even make it into the preserving jar at our place!
If you’ve never successfully made PL’s, or rather, if PL’s aren’t an important ingredient in your kitchen, then I’d hold off on kumquats (unless you’re addicted to them). If you’re already using PL’s quite a bit, then you’ll have some idea of what to do with the kumquats; otherwise they’ll just sit there until you finally throw them away. I’d give the the PL’s another try. It’s interesting–until this post I had no idea how many people had mediocre or just plain bad experiences with PL’s. My own take on them is that if cover them with juice they should do fine. Also, if you make yourself start using them, after awhile they’ll become an automatic part of your repertoire, just one more interesting ingredient that you consider among the other go-to things in your larder. Good luck. Ken
Now I can make tagine with preserved lemon more often, yay! Also, chanh muoi (Vietnamese Salty-sweet Lemonade, I call it natural gatorade) actually works quite well with extra preserved citrus. Thanks for the informative recipe, and gorgeous photos!
Wait, Vietnamese Salty-Sweet Lemonade??!! Say more. That sounds amazing. Ken
Haha it’s such a fun drink! Basically you take a quarter of a salted lemon and put it in the bottom of a tall glass, muddle it with a couple teaspoons of sugar, top it with ice, and pour over sparkling or still water.
@gardenbetty has a pretty spot on recipe : http://www.gardenbetty.com/2012/02/vietnamese-preserved-lemons-chanh-muoi-and-salty-lemonade/
Great post, Ken, with beautiful photography. I’m always on the lookout for ways to use them and this is a good reminder for me to get some Meyer lemons and make another batch. For my birthday, I was served a piece of salmon that was served atop, among other things, a smear of preserved lemon. Incredible!
Thanks, John. Their uses really are endless. I was reading a post by a woman living in Tunis this morning who uses them in mayonnaise, in vinaigrettes, in gremolata, etc. Ken
I am a confessed preserved lemon addict, but have never tried limes, so I must. Glad to hear of a recommendation to use the pulp not just the washed rind (even though I usually take Paula Wolfert’s advice). I do this at times, depending on the recipe add it seems wasteful not to, and brings another dimension to a dish. Thanks.
We haven’t used the limes yet, so fingers crossed, although we do have batches of both regular and key limes goings. We have great hopes. I hope the Hebridean winter isn’t too terrible. Ken
Hope to hear your feedback on the limes. Winter has been a bit grim, relentless gales and rain since start of December, but lighter nights help now, and I’m going to London for a break at the end of the month, so spring best be here when I get back :)
Paula Wolfert truly was a pioneer for us Americans. Love her books still, but I’m sad to say that I’ve never used preserved citrus in my kitchen. I must remedy this. Thank you for the beautiful inspiration, and suggestions as well on how to use them!
Paula Wolfert was a bit of shock to me when I started cooking. Her decrying of the dumbing down of culinary cultures when imported into the US and her fidelity to “authenticity” (and I mean no disrespect) was demanding, to say the least, especially when most of us hadn’t heard of half her ingredients (e.g. preserved lemons). She opened a door to a world few of us will have the opportunity to visit (North African), and in doing so so enabled us to incorporate some of that world’s ingredients and flavor combinations into our own cooking lives. I think this will be her legacy rather than any particular recipe. I’m going to publish some additional preserved lemon links next week to help people think about what to do with them. Ken
This is so great! I’ve preserved lemons before, and thought of preserving limes as well, but it never occurred to me to try the same with kumquats! (And Paula and I both love kumquats, but when they’re in season here, we still can’t use them up fast enough…) I love all the action shot photos, too! :)
I have never had the opportunity to cook with preserved lemons, but it looks like a really fun process and I’m always cooking with new things.
Hi, Ted. Thanks for stopping by. Making preserved lemons is great (as long as you get a juicer–or have forearms like Tiger Woods). Not only do they add a wonderful, complex flavor to other recipes, but there’s also this weird gratification of knowing that you’re using a technique that people have been applying for thousands of years. And then there’s the other treat–they’re gorgeous to photograph. One tip: buy more lemons than you think you’ll need–believe me, no one ever has enough juice the first time. Good luck. Ken
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Hi there Jody and Ken, what beautiful collage of photos. I’ve recently put together a chicken tagine recipe and was directed to this post by Amanda from What’s Cooking sercocinera.wordpress.com/2014/04/29/preserved-lemons/comment-page-1/#comment-3015. I’ve just followed you so that I can keep up with your great posts. Keep smiling and happy cooking :)
Hi, Brendon–Glad Amanda pointed you in our direction. We used 4 preserved lemons last night in a salad with a 7-pound octopus, but we they tend to find their way into more dishes as well–everything from seafood risotto to tuna salad. They are, of course, as important to chicken tagine as olives. Thanks for kind words. Ken
Great to connect with you both :) That sounds so delicious, I haven’t had octopus in such a long time. Were there any other spices you added to the dish?
Lemon, hot red chili flakes, oj, lemon juice, and both dried and fresh oregano. Ken
Sounds delicious, I will have to try it out :)
WOW! We have a lemon orchard. I had never heard of this and will definitely try it. Thank you for posting~
Once you finish your first batch you’ll wonder how you ever lived without them. :-)
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Hi, I have just found this post and I am keen to preserve some limes. We have just acquired a lime orchard. I have never preserved lemons so this is a first for me. How did your limes end up in the end and what did you use them for. Cheers. Love your post.
You have a lime orchard!!! Lucky you! The limes turned out great – both the regular ones and the Key limes. In terms of flavor, both are a bit sharper than lemons, with their own profile. If you think of preserved lemons as regular saxaphone, limes are more like altos – higher and a bit sharper. You can use them interchangeably – we’ve used both in chicken soup (think North African avgolemono), egg/tuna salad, and in homemade mayonnaise, where they’re incredibly good. And we’ve used both in kind of an ad hoc relish on seafood (or the mayo smeared on bluefish). The key is not to overdue it – for some reason the limes seem to stand out a bit more for me, so you might want to go easy on them until you have a sense of their power. You can always add more. They never really blend – they just give this quick burst of contrasting, sharp flavor. Good luck. Ken
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Thanks for the reefer. Ken
Hello. I know I’m late to the party here, but I only just found your recipes in a search for preserved limes. Thank you for all the inspiration and instructions!
Side note, you mentioned never hearing of using PLs with beef… are preserved oranges a thing? That would go well with beef. Just a thought. Anyway, thanks again for the recipes.
I’ve since revised my opinion. I can guarantee from personal experience that a preserved lemon relish is a great compliment to braised brisket. Anyway, I’m glad you found the blog. We’ve been posting less frequently these days because we’re going to Africa, moving, and planning the opening of two new restaurants, but we will be back to a more regular schedule in the coming months.
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