Preserve your own lemons – it’s easy!
If you have access to good fresh unwaxed lemons, it’s easy to make your own preserved lemons. Scrub lemons thoroughly, removing any stem. Cut each lemon into quarters, starting at the flower end of the fruit (that’s the pointy end, opposite to the stem end), but only cut two-thirds of the way through so the lemon will hold together. Put a rounded teaspoonful of coarse sea salt (make sure it is not iodised) in each lemon, close the lemon and massage outside skin with a little more salt.
Put the lemons in a bowl as you prepare them, and give each a good squeeze to release some juice. If using a small jar you might find it easier to cut the lemons into wedges. Put a good tablespoon of coarse sea salt in the bottom of a sterilised preserving jar and tuck in the lemons – really pack them in tightly – sprinkling generously with salt as you go. Tuck in cinnamon sticks, coriander seeds, peppercorns, bay leaves or flavourings.
Cover the lemons with the lemon juice and salt from the bowl and top up with freshly squeezed lemon juice and either a little boiling water or olive oil, leaving a headspace at the top of the jars.
Use a sterilised metal skewer to poke around to release any air bubbles. Cover jars with screw-cap lids. I like to leave the lemons for about a month, turning them every so often to ensure the salty liquid is in contact with all the lemons. Once opened, store refrigerated. Limes and grapefruit also work well.
More information on preserved lemons
Recipes using preserved lemons
Photography Lisbon lemons Aaron McLean http://www.aaronmclean.com
Photography Meyer lemons Julie Biuso