How to Make Homemade Preserved Lemons
There are dozens of recipes in the book Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi that I want to make. Each and every page of that book inspires me to get cooking and the photography in this title brings both food and Israeli culture alive. Preserved lemons are front of mind as I turn the pages. They are not something I have ever made but have wanted to for a long time. Reading this book reminds me of the sounds and smells of the city that it’s named for.
One of the most eclectic places to buy “real-food” ingredients is Jerusalem’s outdoor market, known throughout the Jewish world as the shuk. The hustle and bustle of the shuk fuels merchants to sell their wares and energizes shoppers to seek the best deal. Visit the shuk on a Friday and everyone is preparing for Shabbat (the sabbath). The indoor and outdoor sections are swarming with people, loyal to their favorite watermelon, challah or salatim (appetizer salads like hummus, babaganoush and tahini) store. At sunset, the place is peaceful, the shoppers replaced by people walking the streets of the golden city during 25 hours of tranquility.
Ottolenghi and Tamimi are not just sharing recipes, they are sharing a lifestyle. They make it come alive, and pull at heartstrings with every photo, story and recipe in their latest book. It’s that rustic, whole food thing that I love.
As for the lemons, these are so simple that I am kicking myself for not making a batch before today. Here’s the recipe:
How to Make Homemade Preserved LemonsRecipe Type: SideCuisine: Middle EasternLemons, salt and olive oil. Oh so simple. Adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi’s Jerusalem.Ingredients
- Six or seven lemons
- Six tablespoons of coarse sea salt or kosher salt
- Two sprigs of fresh rosemary
- Half a jalapeño pepper
- Juice of three lemons
- Olive oilInstructions
- Cut each lemon in quarters but not right through – stop about 1/2 inch from the bottom of the lemon so that the pieces are still attached at the base of the lemon.
- Cover each lemon with a tablespoon of salt. Open up the “quarters” so the salt gets inside too.
- Insert the lemons into the glass jar. Pack them tightly and don’t worry about squeezing them a little.
- While there is still space in the jar, add the rosemary and jalapeño pepper. I find this easiest when the jar is half full, rather than trying to push the lemons aside at the end.
- Add the remaining lemons. Close the jar once the jar is tightly packed and store in a cool dark place (I chose the fridge). Leave them for a week, gently shaking the jar every day or two to redistribute the salt.
- After the initial week, open the jar and gently squeeze the lemons so the juices run.
- Drizzle with a touch of olive oil and keep in the fridge for up at least four more weeks.