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October 7, 2013 | by  | in Opinion |
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When Life Gives You Lemons

Preserved lemons are one of my Mum’s fortes, and I was always super-impressed as a young’un by Mama Jude when she’d make a jar of preserved lemons to use in cooking. Chutneys and jams and other preserves impress me particularly because they seem like a tricky art to master—it’s a skill that takes a while to master, and there are a lot of rules to follow regarding the sterilisation of jars/ensuring the preserves are set, and everyone knows I’m not a stickler for rules.

Preserved lemons are a really simple thing to make—all you have to do basically is chuck some lemons in a jar with some salt and leave them for a couple of weeks in the fridge. The lemons will go nice and soft and are perfect for using in Moroccan cooking.

 

Preserved lemons:

– Lemons (enough to pack tightly into a jar of your choice, and a couple more for juicing)

– Heaps of rock salt

– Clean jar with airtight lid and wide neck.

Slice the lemons down lengthways, but not quite to the end of lemon. Do the same the other way so that the lemon is cut into quarters but attached together at the end.

Put salt in between the quarters of the lemons and then stuff them into the jar. Put some salt on top of each lemon and then fill the jar with the rest of the lemons that are prepared the same way. If need be, quarter some of the lemons fully rather than leaving them intact at one end, so that you can stuff the jar better, but ensure there is salt surrounding the lemon so that it preserves.

Juice the spare couple of lemons and pour the juice on top—ensure that the lemons are covered fully, right up to the top of the jar with lemon juice. Screw the lid on tightly and leave out at room temperature for a day or two, flipping the jar upside down each day. Then refrigerate for 3 weeks or so or until the lemons are soft and tender. Rinse the salt from the lemon flesh and take the seeds out before cutting and using in cooking.

I used some of my lemons to make a roasted-eggplant baba ghanoush. Roast 3 eggplants, cut in half and then sliced with preserved lemon wedges stuck in the flesh. Season with pepper and rub with oil, and roast slowly at 180 °C until soft, tender, and starting to golden. Remove flesh from the skin and blend with the lemon wedges, a can of rinsed chickpeas, some minced garlic, and some more pepper. After making this, I found myself singing Kanye’s ‘I Am a God’ because it really was that delicious.

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