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Jan 23, 2010 11:26 AM

making preserved lemons- why must they be whole? and other queries....

I've been making preserved lemons from my meyer lemons for years, and wonder if there is room to "hack" the recipe. For instance, I have a half lemon I would like to add
( okay, I cut off a moldy part that will probably increase the risk of a problem, but that's not the point). Is there any reason, besides visual appeal, that it would not work? Also, my meyers are "precious" to me; Can I use other lemon juice to cover, or is there a reason the lemon juice should be the same as the preserved lemon? Also, is there any reason to use a thin skinned meyer, vs something more widely available? What are the pros and cons of adding spices or oil? My canning lid got a little corroded last year. Should I line it with plastic wrap? Should I be using "new" lids? Why? ( I keep my preserved lemons in the refrigerator).

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  1. What do you use your preserved lemons for?

    I'm not an expert on preserved lemons but I made some about 3 years ago and have been maintaining the batch since. Knowing how corrosive salt and lemon juice is I use a glass jar with the glass lid and rubber seal. The lid attached by a wire 'harness'.

    I think I used organic lemons to start but haven't been strict about the type of lemon used to top up the juice or add to the jar. I'll top up the jar with an extra half a lemon with juice or salt or extra everyonce in a while.

    When I use preserved lemons I only use a small piece of lemon rind, rinsed before use. I'm not sure why the lemons have to be whole.

    I keep my jar of preserved lemons on the counter.

    1. 1 It's very traditional to keep the lemons whole, probably just for ease of handling, but I have seen them cut into quarters, attached at the stem end. It might be one of those "the way it's always been done" things.
      2 I would think you can use any lemon juice to cover.
      3 You can use any lemon variety. I prefer organic, no pesticides.
      4 Oil is never added. It may interfere with the preserving process. What type of spices are you talking about? Salt and lemon will probably outflavor any herb or spice, save chilis or peppercorns, but you will have an adulterated product which will alter the flavor of any dish you make with the lemons.
      5 Kosher salt is the salt to use. I know you didn't ask that, just thought I'd throw it out there.
      6 Change your lid if it's corroded. A nice glass jar with glass lid and bale wire is the way to go.
      7 Preserved lemons don't necessarily have to be refrigerated but it's ok to do it, if you see fit.

      1. I have made preserved lemons with all types of lemons including meyers and the most accessible Eureka. For me, what is important that the lemons are not waxed. So that I can pack as many lemons into a glass preserving jar and to save on juice, I cut the lemons into quarters and process with kosker salt and cover with lemon juice. With the large amount of salt and the long processing time, what type of lemon juice doesn't matter. I use standard metal canning lids, therefore to keep them from corroding, I do line the lids with plastic shrink wrap. I have used the 'European' style hinged rubber gaskin, glass top and those need no plastic shrink wrap. I refrigerate the jars for longer keeping. One thing I always try to do is use clean utensils and never my fingers to remove what I need. That is just my paranoia about contamination.

        1. Thanks everyone! I have not used oil or spices, but I have seen recipes that do. I tend to use my preserved lemons chopped, with parsley in a sort of relish, with seafood, but I use them other ways as well.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Shrinkrap

            Moroccan chicken with preserved lemons and olives?

            1. re: bushwickgirl

              On occasion, but my husband is not a fan, so....

          2. I am about to make my first ever batch of preserved lemons. I have bought a generic jar from the supermarket - but have no idea whether this on its own will make a proper seal. There appears to be a tiny bit of rubber on the lid, where the glass would make contact - but canot say whether this would be sufficient to make a seal, especially since these lemons are meant to keep for a year.. I'd hate for it all to spoil..

            I've attached a couple of pics so you can see what I mean.
            Will these jars be OK as they are, or do I need to do something more to ensure a proper seal?

            Appreciate any comments.

            3 Replies
            1. re: Mud Shark

              I don't believe preserved lemons require the kind of seal you need for "canning" preserves and storing them without refrigeration. I keep mine in the refrigerator BTW. Does your recipe suggest "hot water bath" canning or refrigeration?

              1. re: Shrinkrap

                All my recipe suggests is that the jar be washed in hot soapy water then allowed to dry. It gives no specific instructions regarding the method/seal.. It also states that the jar should be left in a dry, dark cupboard for storage - nothing about refrigeration.

                1. re: Mud Shark

                  I find using a jar with "shoulders" is best. They help keep the lemons submerged. I use the type jar with a gasket and a metal hinge which keeps the lid attached to the jar.

                  My process keeps the lemons on the counter for a month with daily gentle agitation. After that they go in the fridge. I've never had any problems. I do keep the entire process very sanitary - blanch the lemons quickly, use gloves, freshly washed jar. I also use gloves when removing a lemon or part of during cooking. Some of my batches have lasted several years with no sign of deterioration.

                  It is a very easy process once you've done it once or so. And the reward of having these beauties to cook with is more than worth the half hour or so expended in making them.