In September 2014, I enrolled myself in holistic culinary school. It changed my perspective on food and cooking forever. I realized that so much of what I learned about the importance of preserving food, my mom was already doing. Food preservation was something she learned from her own mom, grandmother and great grandmother. Completing the program brought me closer to her in a way that was unexpected because I was finally ready and interested to learn her cooking methods. She is now sharing so many wonderful stories about her childhood and food that I would not have heard otherwise.
So yesterday, on a unusually warm California morning, my mom and I stood on our deck and did what those before us have done for years. And if you call this tradition, then I am grateful for it. Even if it is just the simple act of semi-quartering lemons and stuffing them into mason jars with oodles of salt. Happy preserving everyone!
Preserved Meyer Lemons
Adapted from Paula Wolfert, “The Slow Mediterranean Kitchen”
Dairy-Free, Vegan, Vegetarian, Nut-Free, Sesame-Free, Gluten-Free, Soy-Free
You will need 1 large pint and a half size mason jar and possibly a smaller quart jar for extra storage. It is better to pack these in a large jar and divide into smaller jars after 30 days. Preserved lemons are great in salads, in the skin of roasted chickens and in stews. Rinse the skin, discard the pulp and slice thin or finely dice in salads. These are great DIY gifts also!
- 10-12 ripe organic lemons
- 1/2 c coarse sea salt
- Extra virgin olive oil
Prepare your jars. You can either sterilize your jars in the dishwasher or I have a pot of warm/hot water on the stove and place my jars into the pot, with lid on. I leave my jars in the pot until I am ready to pack the lemons. Once ready, tip water out of pot, let cool, air dry and pack lemons.
Rinse and scrub the lemons and dry well. Quarter, cutting from the top to within 1/2 inch of the bottom. Sprinkle salt on the exposed flesh, then reshape the fruit. Toss with the remaining salt and pack the lemons into a 3-4 cup dry, sterile mason jar with lid.
With a wooden spoon, gently push down on the lemons. Squeeze the juice from the remaining lemons and pour into the jar. You may need extra lemon juice to cover the top. Close the jar tightly and let the lemons ripen at room temperature for thirty days, away from sun or light. Shake the jars each day to redistribute the salt and juice. I call this giving your lemons a little love each day. Within a few days, you will notice the salt will draw out enough juice to completely cover the lemons.
After thirty days, add a little olive oil to cover (optional) and refrigerate for up to 1 year. Rinse the lemons before using.