A quick, no-canning way to preserve lemons that require three things: kosher salt, lemons and a glass jar.
Often times I buy a bunch of lemons at the grocery store and forget to use all of them. They start looking a little puny and then I’m drinking lemon water for the next day or so.
In this case, I purposefully bought two bags of lemons because they were on sale and because I have had my eye on this recipe from Tart and Sweet on preserved lemons.
Here’s where I got confused. Yup, already got confused in the first line of the recipe – it asks you to trim 1/4 inch off the ends, then quarter the lemons but leave 1/2 inch of the lemon intact.
I’m a visual learner.
And she offered no pictures (except an opened jar of lemons, a small jar, when she says to use a quart jar in the recipe…)
I googled a few other recipes for preserved lemons to see what they did while Rahul started cutting into lemons to figure it out.
The Year in Food and Simple Comfort Food offered better visuals of what I needed to do. NOW I get it. You want to pretend like you’re peeling the lemon open so you can assault it with salt (ha, get it?) and then transfer the lemon to a glass jar.
You CAN cut all the way through the lemons or cut them up any way you want – “they just won’t look as pretty” is the explanation from these recipes. You also may consider how you will use them. If you want long strips of rind then you may not want to chop the heck out of them.
Hopefully, you can follow my recipe and visuals better than I was first able to while learning from a book.
How to preserve lemons
Makes however much you want – think of 2-3 medium-sized lemons per pint jar, 4-8 per quart jar plus 2-3 extra lemons for juice*
- 3/4 cup Kosher salt
- Lemons* – when in doubt, buy more than less. You’d hate to find out you don’t have enough lemons for adding juice at the end.
Plop the lemon into your jar with the cut-open side up. Now you need to smash the lemon to release the juice – I found that with the 26 oz Weck Jar that I used, a pint jar fit inside perfectly for smashing.
Add a large pinch of salt on top of the smashed lemon. Repeat the process of cutting lemons, salting them, and smashing them until you fill up the jar. You should have about 3/4 of the jar filled with juice. Juice your extra lemons on top of the jar so that all of the lemons are covered in juice. If there’s salt left in your bowl, pour it into the jar.
Seal your jar, shake it up a bit and let sit on the counter for two days, shaking the jar a little each day. Let the jars sit on the counter or in your pantry for one month.
David Lebovitz says to add lemon juice if you find that your jars are losing juice. I don’t know how this could happen, but it seemed like something to mention…
I’ll keep you updated on the progress. It’s going to be tough waiting for them to be done! At least the house smells AMAZING from using up all of these lemons!
They aren’t very pretty, kinda alien-looking, and I wonder if they’re going to keep changing in color and texture. I love how bright they are, and yellow is a perfect compliment to all of the blue in my kitchen.
Now, what to do with these things? Once opened, they should last in the refrigerator for about 6 months. You’ll rinse off the salt before using, but you can:
- Finely dice and mix with sauteed vegetables
- Mash into butter with herbs (both David Lebovitz suggestions)
- Chicken dishes, like this beer-braised chicken w/sriracha