tutorial: preserved lemons

Stella will demonstrate how to make preserved lemons from our backyard neighbor, "backyard Richard". If you get preserved lemons from us at the holidays, they won't be from this batch. I was mortified to notice Stella's filthy fingernails in these photos, so we'll keep the first round of lemons to ourselves. I think thirty days soaking in brine should kill whatever was under those nails. I'm hoping so!

I've never made a tagine before, but this is my main motivation for preserving these lemons. They are critical to a delicious tagine.

1. Pluck lemons from the water they have been soaking in (three days minimum). The soaking softens the peel.

2. Measure out a half cup of sea salt. You might not use all of it.

3. Trim off tops of lemons. Cut into quarters, leaving the bottoms intact to keep the lemons from falling apart.

4. Pry lemons apart and sprinkle the interiors heavily with sea salt.

5. Pinch lemons back together and pack into a sterilized jar just large enough to hold them all. Enough juice should squeeze out of the lemons to cover them completely, but you can always squeeze extra lemon juice into the jar if the lemons aren't totally covered. A Weck jar would've been so lovely for these, but we've filled our dozen already with different coffee beans, grains, party favors, knick-knacks, etc. and didn't have any left for this job.

6. Sprinkle the top of the jar generously with salt, then seal. Let sit at room temperature for two or three days, sometimes upside down, sometimes right-side up. Then let sit in refrigerator for three weeks, also turning upside down occasionally. 

When using the lemons after they've finished "pickling", rinse the salt from the lemon you are using at the time. The lemons will keep in the refrigerator for six months. 

I obviously didn't invent this recipe. I found it on the internet and followed it almost verbatim. I'm not sure I have any recipes of my very own I could share. That's why I'm not a food blogger, although I'd love to be one. 

Also, if I ever serve you a tagine, the lemons in it will also not come from this batch, I promise!

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