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Moroccan Preserved Lemon Recipe

If you’re tired of the same old – same old, it’s time to try something new and exotic. Moroccan food is considered exotic, and many of the dishes are quick and easy, as long as you have the right ingredients.
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While most ingredients in Moroccan cooking are common and easily found in the regular grocery store, an indispensable ingredient for many of the most flavorful dishes is Preserved Lemons. These lemons have a unique pickled taste and silky texture that cannot be duplicated with fresh lemons. Although they are available online and at Middle Eastern grocery stores in some areas, they are expensive to buy. It is very easy to make your own, and even though they need to sit for 30 days, there is no hands-on time other than 15 minutes to initially put them in the jar and then to occasionally shake the jar. Once made, Preserved Lemons keep for up to a year on your shelf, and can be added to many Moroccan dishes, especially tagines which are easily made in the slow cooker.

For those who don’t always plan 30 days ahead, I’ve included a recipe for Five-Day Preserved Lemons that will do in a pinch, but unlike the 30 day lemons, won’t keep for more than about a month in your refrigerator.

Now is a good time to assemble your Preserved Lemons; I’ll be posting several easy recipes in the next few weeks that will use this unique flavoring ingredient.

Moroccan 30-Day Preserved Lemons


7-9 lemons
1/2 to 1 cup coarse or rock salt

8 black peppercorns
1 bay leaf
1 cinnamon stick
  1. Scrub the lemons with warm, soapy water to remove any wax that may be on them; rinse them well and dry them on a dish towel.

  2. Quarter 6 of the lemons from the top to within 1/2 inch of the bottom.
  3. .””












  4. Sprinkle as much salt as you can get inside on the cut areas, then reshape the fruit.
  5. ””















  6. Place 1 tablespoon salt on the bottom of a clean and sterilized quart-size mason jar.

  7. ””
  8. Push the salted lemons down into the jar, adding more salt and the peppercorns between layers.

  9. As you add each lemon, press down so that the juices are released and also to make room for the remaining lemons. Depending on the size of the lemons, you will be able to get 6-7 into the jar.

  10. The juice released from the squashed lemons should cover the lemons in the jar; if it doesn’t, squeeze the juice from the remaining lemons so that it completely covers the lemons.

  11. The juice should come to within 1/2 inch of the top of the jar, but make sure you leave a little air space before sealing the jar.

  12. Add the bay leaf and push the cinnamon stick down into the jar.

  13. ””
  14. Let the lemons sit in a warm, dark place, such as the inside of a cupboard, shaking the jar each day to distribute the salt and juice.

  15. The lemons will take 30 days; I always mark my calendar 30 days out.

  16. To use, remove a lemon from the jar, rinse under cold, running water, and add to the recipe according to directions.
  17. Preserved lemons can be kept on the pantry shelf for up to a year; there is no need to refrigerate.
  18. Note: Occasionally a lacy white substance forms on the top of the lemons; it is perfectly harmless and should simply be rinsed off for aesthetic reasons just before using.

Amount Per Serving
Calories 6 Calories from Fat 1
Percent Total Calories From: Fat 13% Protein 10% Carb. 77%

Nutrient Amount per Serving
Total Fat 0 g
Saturated Fat 0 g
Cholesterol 0 mg
Sodium 1861 mg
Total Carbohydrate 7 g
Dietary Fiber 1 g
Sugars 0 g
Protein 1 g

Vitamin A 1% Vitamin C 52% Calcium 0% Iron 6%


Five Day Preserved Lemons


If you happen to find yourself without Preserved Lemons and want to cook Moroccan food, this quick method makes great lemons that will work in any recipe, but that will not keep longer than about a month in the refrigerator.

3 lemons
1/2 cup salt
  1. Using a razor blade, make 7 or 8 vertical cuts about 2-inches long around the peel of each of the lemons.

  2. Make sure you do not cut deeper than the white pith into the actual lemon flesh

  3. Place the lemons in a non-aluminum saucepan with the salt and enough water to cover.

  4. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat and boil until the peels become very soft, about 30 minutes.

  5. Let the lemons cool in the cooking liquid, then transfer them to a clean glass jar.

  6. Pour the cooking liquid over the lemons, cover the jar, and refrigerate for 5 days before using.

Amount Per Serving
Calories 4 Calories from Fat 0
Percent Total Calories From: Fat 6% Protein 10% Carb. 84%

Nutrient Amount per Serving
Total Fat 0 g
Saturated Fat 0 g
Cholesterol 0 mg
Sodium 3101 mg
Total Carbohydrate 5 g
Dietary Fiber 0 g
Sugars 0 g
Protein 1 g

Vitamin A 0% Vitamin C 51% Calcium 0% Iron 3%

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