Cooking with Preserved Lemons

If you’re reading this, it means you’ve been gifted a jar of preserved lemons, or you’ve been diggin’ through blog posts on this website. In either case, enjoy!

What are preserved lemons and how do I use them?

Your jar contains fresh fruit packed with salt, fresh lemon juice, cinnamon sticks, peppercorns, coriander, cloves, and bay leaves. They sit for at least 30 days to pickle before use. We spent a happy evening in mid-November with records on the stereo, juicing lemons and packing others with salt. Epicurious has some directions for making your own, if you’re curious to understand the process.

To use them, rinse a piece of lemon off in running water. I sometimes slice them for presentation, but you’ll mostly want to discard the pulp and work with the rind. The lemons will keep for a year. You can re-use the lemon juice base to add more lemons 2-3 times over the course of the year, should you develop a taste for the cuisine.

Can you recommend any recipes?

The salty, sour rind features prominently in Moroccan cuisine, and my favorite way to enjoy them are in tagines. Their silky texture enhances vegetable dishes and brightens up lamb. Here’s a favorite chicken tagine recipe from my friend Raleigh and Umm Maryam’s cookbook The Tagine Dream.

Contrary to popular belief, you do not need a fancy ceramic tagine to make this masterpiece; a heavy-bottomed pot on the stove works just fine.

Olives and Preserved Lemon Tagine

Once you’ve used the lemons, you can add the lemon juice to bloody marys or margaritas, salad dressings, or other sauces. The tripod of taste involves balancing fat, acid, and salt on the palate, and preserved lemons account for two of the three! As you use the lemons, feel free to toss fresh wedges back into the jar to keep them coming. I recommend washing the new lemons thoroughly, adding them to the jar with wooden utensils, and covering them back up with additional fresh lemon juice and salt.

Please enjoy these treats from our kitchen to yours. We hope you’ll share your own photos and recipes across the year!

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