Preserved lemons add a wonderful boost of flavour to all kinds of dishes, especially Moroccan and Middle Eastern- inspired meals. It’s very simple to preserve your own lemons, especially if you have a glut of fruit from your own tree, but you will need to wait 3–4 weeks before you can use them in cooking. I like to add a selection of whole spices to my jar, because they look so pretty and add extra layers of flavour. You can play around with your own combinations: peppercorns, fennel seeds, chillies and whole cloves work well, too.
Makes: 1-2 jars
Takes: 15 minutes
Vegetarian | Vegan | Paleo | Dairy-free | Gluten-free
8–10 clean lemons
500g rock salt or flaky sea salt
2 bay leaves
2 cinnamon quills
2 whole star anise
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
Method: Cut the lemons into almost-quarters, leaving them attached at the base. Push a generous amount of salt into the middle of each lemon. Pack the salted lemons tightly into a sterilised jar, squishing down slightly So the lemon juice is released. Add the bay leaves, cinnamon quills, star anise, coriander seeds and another large handful of salt. If you need to, top up with a little water, ensuring there are no air bubbles in the jar.
Seal the jar, and leave it to sit at room temperature for a couple of days, inverting it every now and then so that the spices can resettle. Then move it to the fridge and leave for at least 3 weeks until the rinds soften and lose their bitterness. You can store the preserved lemons in your fridge for up to 6 months.
To use your lovely lemons, remove one from the jar and rinse thoroughly to remove the extra salt. Scrape away the flesh and pith and discard. Finely chop the preserved lemon rind.
Sterilising jars: To be extra certain your jar is only going to preserve the ingredients you’re putting into it, it’s best to sterilise before filling. Sterilising is pretty easy. Wash the jars and lids in hot, soapy water and then place in the oven at 150C for 15 minutes. Take care when handling hot jars. Wait for hot jars to cool before you fill them with ingredients at room temperature.