Citron Confit – Salt Preserved Lemons

1st April, 2010: Posted by G.L. Pease in Moderate

Once you’ve had preserved lemons, you’ll wonder how you ever got by without a jar of them in the pantry. They have a bright and lively taste, without being overly sharp, and bring lemony goodness to many dishes.

You can order them from Middle Eastern specialty shops, but they’re really easy to make,
and you’ll know exactly what to do next time that generous neighbor brings you a big bag of fresh lemons from their overly prolific tree.

An open jar will keep in the fridge for at least a year, though you’ll use them far more quickly than that, so be sure to have another jar or two “doing their thing” on the counter top. It takes six to eight weeks before before they’re really ready to use, so what are you waiting for? You’ll want these on-hand when you get your Marrakesh Sunset, so you can immediately do a batch of Chicken with Citron Confit and Olives!

Select small to medium, firm fruit with smooth unblemished skins. For a quart of preserved lemons, you’ll need 10-12 lemons, plus a couple more for extra juice.

  • Clean and sterilize your jars and lids
  • Wash the lemons well, and dry them
  • Put about 1T kosher salt in the bottom of the jar
  • Cut a little off each end, exposing just a bit of the pulp
  • Slice lengthwise almost through, leaving about 1cm/0.5″ holding the lemon together
  • Turn the lemon over, and make a similar lengthwise cut at a 90° angle to the first
  • From each end, fill the lemon with about 1T of kosher salt, and press the lemon “halves” together to distribute the salt
  • Pack the lemons tightly into the jar, sqeezing out as much juice as you can — a wooden muddler can be used
  • When the jar is nearly full, top it up with fresh lemon juice and a little more salt, put the lid on, and leave it on the counter, inverting it every few days
  • After a couple of days, you may need to add a little more fresh lemon juice – keep the lemons submerged!

After six weeks or so, the lemons are ready to use. Some like to discard the pulp, and use only the peel. Some rinse them. You’ll find your own preferences, but do experiment. I find every part of them useful for different things. They’re a wonderful addition to any kitchen.

Use these where you would regular lemons for a little more intense flavor.

Perk up Puttanesca. Chop and add to yogurt, with cucumbers, dill, Flavorevolutions Chili Casablanca and a little cilantro to serve on grilled fish. Or, dice and add to roasted or grilled vegetables.

For variety, you can do this with limes, too, or a combination of the two. Or, add dried cardamom, dried chilies, a cinnamon stick.

2 Responses

  1. Matty Says:

    Are you cutting the lemon like a bloomin onion is cut?

    Every Halloween I make Dad’s old chili, and the whole family comes over to watch the kids collect candy. This year they are in for the new chili recipe. Lets see if they like the change.

  2. G.L. Pease Says:

    The lemons are cut more or less into quarters, but the quarters remain attached. Make a cut from one end almost all the way through, leaving about 1/2″ at the bottom. Then, turn the lemon over, and make another similar cut at right angles to the first. You’ll be able to pack plenty of salt into the gaps, but leave the lemons more or less intact.

    In actuality, you could just as easily quarter the lemons and get great results; I just prefer to do it this way.