You know that saying “When life gives you lemons…” ?
Months ago, I had a super amazing dinner with Jonathan (my boyfriend), at a Moroccan restaurant here in the city. The appetizer we ordered was something similar to a spanakopita, pretty heavily spiced and containing tiny pieces of preserved lemon. It was divine. So amazing, so tasty, just so good.
The meal reminded me of a Moroccan themed dinner party I was a part of year(s?) ago. One of the recipes a friend of mine was creating for the meal, involved preserved lemons. She had looked up ways to make them, finding that ultimately there was just not enough time. Preserved lemons need to age, to preserve. The longer they are left, the better – with a minimum of two months before cracking the seal for the first time. We ended up finding a deli style counter in a Mediterranean shop that sold preserved lemons like a typical North American grocer would sell sliced sandwich meat.
Calgary is home to a plethora of different cultural areas, many many different ethnic grocery stores – resulting in a basic unlimited supply of knowledge surrounding food. The folks working behind the check out counter of the little mom ‘n’ pop shops are so helpful, so willing to give you absolutely every bit of information – whether that be on a specific dish from their country, or about their own personal journey. It’s amazing. If there are small ethnic grocers near you, I strongly urge you to go! The wealth of knowledge is incredible, the people are heart warming – and equally heart warmed by someone of a different culture wanting to learn from them. It’s a beautiful way to spend an afternoon.
two 500mL jars worth
1 Cup High Quality Salt
1 Cup Warm Water
1/2 Cup Lemon Juice
2 Cinnamon Sticks
3-4 Star Anise
Sterilized 500mL Glass Jars
Scrub the lemons, you want them nice and clean because you’ll be eating the rind. Slice the lemon into quarters, keeping the fruit in tact – not cutting the full way to the bottom. The lemon should still be whole, just sliced open into four parts. Fill the middle of the lemon with salt, then pack it into the bottom of one of the jars. Continue with the rest of the lemons. Add four peppercorns, one cinnamon stick, and at least one star anise to each jar. You should have enough to make two jars, depending on your lemons you may have extra. Using the lemon juice first, add half to each jar, then add in the water, topping up the jar to be filled to the shoulder. Add in another few tablespoons of salt, and seal. Leave in a dark, room temperature place for a minimum of two months. Tip each jar upside down and give it a bit of a whirl every few days to ensure the salt dissolves.
*Preserved lemons are great in a pilaf, mixed into quinoa with veggies (especially good with spinach), couscous – and well, basically any grain dish. They pair well with roasted potatoes, once roasted dress with fresh pepper, oregano and thinly sliced preserved lemon. Goat cheeses, olive spreads, oh man just use your imagination! So many uses! But keep in mind, they are salty!*0