If you checked the blog last week, you’d notice that we were on a bit of a citrus kick. Besides making lemonade and key lime infused vinegar, I also tried my hand at preserving some lemons. But Drew, can’t you get lemons any time of the year at your local grocery or liquor store? Of course you can. So do these taste better? I don’t know, haven’t tried them yet, but I’m guessing the flavor is quite distinct.
What I do know is that I love salt, and I love kitchen projects, and it seemed like we’ve hit the peak growing season for wherever the lemons at the big box stores come from, so I figured why not. Another plus? I like northwest African cuisine, or at least the little I’ve been introduced to, and these guys pop up all the time in those recipes.
(Like most of the stuff on here, I cobbled together a few ideas from across preserving books and the web. Ahh, the internet, the great aggregator. Read to the end if you want a tip on preserving Basil with salt too.)
So let’s get started. You’ll only need a few things. Lemons, salt and a jar to keep them in.
Take your bag o lemons (between 9 and 12) and scrub them mercilessly. You’re not just cleaning them, you’re getting the preservative they put on them off. Don’t worry, it’s not awful for you, it’s a corn byproduct, but it’s not great either. I used my usual mixture of vinegar water (50/50) followed by a baking powder scrub and round it all up with a rinse under cool water.
Then one by one cut one end off of the lemons. Squeeze the lemons over your jar, about a tablespoon from each. Then cut the other end of the lemons off. Quarter them without going all the way through so they can open. Add about a tablespoon of salt (I used Sea Salt, but I’m sure Kosher would work too).
Put them in the jar, making sure to throw a good amount of salt between layers. Do this with all the lemons, pushing them down as you go. At the end throw about 2 tablespoons of salt on top for good measure.
No matter what container you’re using, make sure not to screw the lid on too tight.
Set aside on the counter and let the salt draw the
moister moisture out of the lemons. It should take about 4 days. Make sure to tighten the lid, shake, then loosen the lid about once a day. If after 4 days the lemons are completely covered feel free to add more juice via squeezing more lemons. Then throw it in the fridge for about 3 weeks.
And that’s it. Salt is pretty amazing. I did something akin to this with basil last year by laying down a layer of the leaves in a jar, covering with a good amount of salt, and repeating. I threw the jar in the fridge and we’re still using the stuff.