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Sunday, February 26, 2012

Lemon pickles (Moroccan preserved lemons)

The pickled lemons are a basic ingredient in lots of Moroccan dishes, especially in the awesomely flavorful tagines (like this). They need to be prepared at least 6 weeks before using them, but keep well for up to a year. You may encounter lots of recipes using them around here and in your other cooking-related wanderings, so I thought I'd better show you how it's done, simple and to the point, once and for all :).
Recipe source: Crazy mother cooker

Last year: Broccoli and ham torte, Cardamom Lassi, Broccoli and pancetta orrecchiete and Noodle salad with black sesame

Ingredients (for a large jar that can hold 6-8 lemons tightly packed):

  • 6-8 lemons
  • juice from 5-6 lemons
  • about 100-150 g salt
  • some water
  • a glug of olive oil

First, let's talk about the salt. Usually, when making traditional salt brine pickles (like my father does wonderfully), iodized salt is a no-no. It makes them go too soft and gooey. But in this case, where only the lemon peel will be used (and in a finely chopped form), the consistency doesn't really matter. Thus, in this case  it doesn't matter if the salt you use is iodized or not, but when making other salty pickles keep in mind to use plain salt.
Next, be careful to have a very clean jar and if you have the patience sterilize it by putting it in the hot oven for 20-30 minutes.
And with that being said, let's get to work :)
Wash the prettiest 6-8 lemons from your bundle very, very well. (They might be waxed to keep better on the shelves). Cut them in quarters almost all the way, but not quite completely and fill them with a generous helping of salt:

As you finish doing this to each, stuff them in the jar, as tightly as you can. When the jar is full, pour the juice from the other lemons in it:

Heat some water up until the evaporating point and add a handful or two of salt to it. Mix well, then pour it in the jar until it's almost filled (and the lemons are all covered). Also pour a little olive oil to seal the bad bacteria out of the pickling going on underneath :). Cover tightly and put the jar in a cool and dark place. In 6 weeks it will be done. Enjoy :)

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