Salt cured/pickled lemons
just before Christmas I got a really good buy on lemons and decided to salt cure them;
they've been in the lemon juice/kosher salt brine now for 33 days, being faithfully turned daily; I have recipes to use them, know to discard the pulp and rinse the peels; but how do I store them? can I slice and freeze them? some sites call for repacking in water or oil; or can I just leave in the salt/lemon juice and store in the refrigerator ? there are 10 or 12 lemons squashed into a widemouth quart jar; I suspect it will take me a long time to use them up- unless I share with friends. ( if they're good) - they look very pretty.
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I always have these in the fridge and often forget about them, but they can easily be used in many dishes that would benefit from some extra citrus flavor. Last night I needed a side dish for some chicken and I sauteed some broccoli florets with some mushroom quarters and garlic and at the last minute, threw in some julienned preserved lemons and some thinly sliced speck (now available at Trader Joe's!) . It ended up being a big hit!
I once had a batch that lasted over 2 years and was fine. I made them with salt, spices and extra lemon juice. The lemons always stayed submerged in the brine. I kept it super sterile, using disposable gloves to separate the quarters as needed. I kept them in the fridge just as a precaution.
They are nice with fish. I do a rift on a gremolata and rub it in the cavity of a whole fish and roast. Works well in tartar sauce too. A nice fresh flavor in salads made of grain such as quinoa, wheatberries or couscous. Works well with pastas too. Any place where a lemon or olive flavor would be good!
The only place that they haven't worked for me was using the brine for a spin off of a dirty martini. Ok, but not good enough to do a gain.
I just made a jar of these following instructions from Cooking at the Kasbah by Ktty Morse. She indicates that they will last up to 6 months in the fridge if covered by the brine. Let me know how you use them - I'm still trying to decide what to do first!
Yeah - whatever you do don't take them out of the brine. That's what preserves them. I suppose freezing them will help preserve them longer, but it's probably not necessary.
In fact, these are referred to as preserved lemons as opposed to "salt cured/pickled lemons." If you search around on Google, you'll certainly find far more ideas and info by using the term preserved lemons.
By the way you don't necessarily need to discard the pulp... The most common dish you will
I just keep them in the fridge. I don't keep track of how long, but I have some now that are over 2 months old. They tend to get softer over time, but they never have gone bad.
As for how long can you store them? Who knows? I found one site that says up to 6 months. Another quotes Paula Wolfort as saying up to 1 year. But how do they know? Did someone sample a batch every month and get sick or disgusted at 7, but someone else thought they were ok until 13 months?
And don't throw away that brine. Mix it with some fresh lemon juice to cover the next batch. When I'm down to 2 or 3 lemons I cut and salt about 8 or 10 fresh lemons, let them sit in salt for a day or two, then they go into a new jar (don't rinse them or brush off the excess salt). Put the old lemons on top and add the juice of 2 or 3 fresh lemons. Finally, top off with the old brine.