After checking out the price of some fairly ordinary looking preserved lemons in my local grocery store this week, I decided to make my own. I was inspired by a recent class which I did through Real Food Projects with Holly Davis where we made sauerkraut. I realised that preserving things wasn’t so hard. In fact, I realised that what had previously put me off from pickling and preserving things was my impatience. Who wants to wait 2-4 weeks to sample their finished product! I blame this impatience on my previous job and usually being short on time. Clearly I am now reformed.
I used a 580mL Weck jar for preserving my lemons. I had purchased this last year on a trip to Japan because I liked the shape of the jar, but had not yet found the occasion to use it. Barth laughed at me when I carefully and proudly unwrapped it upon arriving back in Sydney. His grandmother, who was an avid gardener and who spent most of her life on a farm, making her own preserved goodies at the end of each summer, had thrown out hundreds of them a couple of years ago. Sigh. What goes around, comes around.
- 7 medium sized unwaxed lemons
- 5-6 tablespoons of celtic sea salt
- 2-3 dried red chillis
- Teaspoon of black peppercorns
- Teaspoon of dried rosemary
- 1 glass jar with tight fitting lid and seal
- Boil some water and fill the glass jar and lid. Leave for 2-3 minutes then discard water. Leave jar to air dry (do not wipe out jar as this may lead to contamination).
- Scrub 5 of the lemons under running water to ensure no wax or dirt remains on the skin.
- Quarter the scrubbed lemons with a knife by making a criss-cross shape to about 3/4 of the way through the lemon. Do not cut through the base of the lemon, as it needs to remain a vessel for the salt.
- Carefully stuff a tablespoon of sea salt into each lemon.
- One by one, place the salt-stuffed lemons into the jar. Push down and squeeze the lemons, so you can tightly pack them in. I was able to fit five lemons in my jar.
- Fill the gaps in the jar with the chillis, peppercorns and rosemary.
- Squeeze the juice from remaining two lemons and pour some of it into the jar. Keep pushing down the lemons as you go, as you may not need all of the lemon juice. The lemons should be covered by the lemon juice. If not, add more juice and push down the lemons in the jar so that they are covered. This avoids mould growing on the lemons. I placed one of the empty lemon halves on top of the salt-stuffed lemons as a weight to keep those lemons submerged in the juice.
- Tightly fit on the lid and store in a cool, dry location for at least 4-6 weeks (longer is also fine). Don’t be impatient. Once opened, rinse the salt from the lemons before use and store in refrigerator.