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Jan 16, 2005 06:59 PM

Q re: Preserving lemons--juice is cloudy

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I'm preserving lemons for the first time. I'm using Paula Wolfert's 30-day method (basically, meyer lemons quartered but still attached at the bottom; pack with about 2/3 C course salt and 1 bay leaf; add additional fresh lemon juice to cover; let sit unrefrigerated for 30 days; shake jar once per day).

Here's my question: The juice has become cloudy. Does this sound right or is something amiss?

The lemons smell good--lemony and salty. They are beginning to look preserved and getting soft. The juice is not discolored, just very cloudy. I'm about 10 days into the process.

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  1. I expect that the cloudiness is from shaking the jars every day. I make preserved lemons without shaking the jars, and the liquid is usually clear or slightly milky at the end of the month.

    As long as they smell good and there are no off odors, I'd say you are fine. One thing, though--I wouldn't open the jars any more than necessary, that's just letting in air and bacteria.

    It's always important to be cautious when home-preserving and fermenting, but in this case you'd have to try pretty hard to grow anything in such an acidic brine. Preserved lemons are a forgiving pickle!

    1. Not a problem. I've been making preserved lemons for about a dozen years and cloudiness in the brine does not affect the final product. You might try adding whole peppercorns next time. Enjoy!

      2 Replies
      1. re: Christine

        Would you use preserved lemons in a Morrocan style dish that just called for zest of one regular lemon and the juice of a whole one? I'm wondering whether the writer of the original recipe I use just didn't think that many people would be able to get preserved ones; it's from an old revised ed. of NY Times Cookbook, Morrocan Style chicken, which, though delicious as written, might it be even better (more authentic?) with preserved lemons? I'm not sure of the whens and whys of using this flavoring.
        Also, I once bought a jar of them on the spur of the moment, and asked how long I could keep them since they had no ex. date, and was just told "a long time". I forgot about them, and threw them out after I found them in back of fridge many months later.

        1. re: RebeccaBG

          If you're thinking of chicken with lemon and olives, absolutely go with preserved lemons instead of zest. You'll still need to add fresh lemon juice, but the cooked, preserved lemon peel is delicious. Make sure you rinse the preserved peel well to get the salt off, and take the actual lemon "meat" off as well (it absorbs too much salt that won't rinse off); it's only about the peel.

          Another way I use preserved lemons is with any fish that you will be serving with a pan sauce. Chop up the rinsed lemon peels and cook with the fish, take them out of the pan while you're making the reduction, then put them back in the sauce to heat up. Yum!

          Moroccans also make delicious whole baked fish stuffed with herbs (parsley and cilantro), onion, maybe some tomatoes, spices like cumin and paprika, and preserved lemon peel. You don't need to eat this stuffing, but it really perfumes the fish.