sometime last year i tried out making preserved meyer lemons, and they rapidly became one of my favorite flavors to keep on hand for seasoning all kinds of food. meyer lemons just reappeared in the farmer’s market, and they’ll be around all winter. enjoy them fresh while they’re ripe, but try making preserved lemons early in the season so you can try them out, and then you’ll know if you need to make 4-6 more jars to keep through the summer.
preserved lemons are really simple to prepare. you’ll want some quart-sized canning jars, preferably wide-mouth, a good amount of coarse sea salt, and about 8-12 lemons for each jar.
some people like to cut the stem-ends off their lemons, but since i like to use the whole thing, i left the ends on. since i’m using meyer lemons, which have thinner skins anyway, i slice from the non-stem end lengthwise to the stem end without cutting all the way through. turn 90 degrees and make a similar cut, so you have a quartered lemon that is attached at the base. if you work over a plate, you’ll be able to collect any juice to pour in the jar later.
you’ll always end up with some seeds, but this is a point where i try to remove any i can get to. once you’re ready, pour salt into the quartered lemon, coating all interior sides, close the quarters and place it in the jar. as you work, you’ll want to jam the lemons together, packing them as tightly as you can to release juice and eliminate space for air.
i worked with 11 lemons total, and my jar was about full with 8 of them inside. i zested the last 3, since they’ll just be used for juice [reserving the zest for other projects] and juiced the remaining lemons into the jar to submerge the preserved lemons and add a tablespoon of salt. place in the pantry for a couple days, and then into the refrigerator for about a month. once a the peels have softened and the salt and acids have worked the lemon oil from the skins, you’ll have a deeply flavorful addition to all kinds of meals.
some say to wash the lemons of their salt before use, but i just chop up the whole thing and forego salting the dish i’m making instead. one of my favorite ways to enjoy them is to top chicken or fish with chopped preserved lemon and oil and then broil. here are some other ways to use preserved lemon:
preserved lemon dip
cracked green olives with herbs and preserved lemon
farro, white bean and preserved lemon salad
spanish anchovy, fennel and preserved lemon salad
israeli couscous with roasted butternut squash and preserved lemon
grilled wild salmon with preserved lemon relish
preserved lemon citrus chicken with chervil gremolata
moroccan chicken with preserved meyer lemons and green olives