JOURNEY OF THE PRESERVED LEMONS: Chapter 1 — It Begins

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Sometime a year ago, I read an article or a blog post about preserving lemons, and the process intrigued me. A few days later, I bought a jar from Ikea and planned to pickle my own bundle of citrus, but as is often the case, extreme laziness overwhelmed me, and for many months now, the jar has stood empty (save for a two week impasse where it temporarily housed chocolate-covered espresso beans). Well, this weekend I sauntered over to the Hollywood Farmer’s market where I not only saw Coolio and Aisha Tyler, but several Meyer lemons. I’ve never actually had these prized lemons before, and if I have, I don’t remember the experience. All I know is that everyone — from Food Network personalities to Internet babblers — seems to adore these seasonal treats. Seeing them in abundance at the Farmer’s Market, I suddenly had my lightbulb moment. I would make preserved lemons from them! This was especially convenient since lately I’ve been yearning for a good tagine, and preserved lemons are an integral ingredient to such dishes. With perhaps a rabid ferociousness in my eyes, I quickly scooped up ten lemons (the lady behind the counter then gave me an eleventh on the house), and soon I was back at my apartment, ready to start what will be a three week journey. A journey.. OF THE PRESERVED LEMONS!

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My bowl of Meyer lemons, with a few limes thrown in for good measure.

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Someone (I forget who) once gave me a Nancy Grace bookmark; so of course I took a picture of it with the Meyer lemons. Get it?

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Nancy Meyer lemons! It’s complicated…

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Nancy does NOT approve of the pun.

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There were a lot of different instructions for how to prepare preserved lemons. Some said scrub the lemons rigorously. Others said blanch them in boiling water. The latter option seemed most effective; so that’s what I did (in batches). That’s good blanch!

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The lemons, post blanch.

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The stage is set.

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I have to cut every lemon in half, and every half in quarters. However, I’m not supposed to cut all the way through the rind so that the pieces remain connected.

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I don’t know why it’s important to keep the halves intact. It just is.

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Next I have to slather the lemons in salt. Lots and lots of salt.

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Macro shot!

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After about ten minutes, the jar is chock full o’ lemons. Seven in total.

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This is like the VW Beetle of the lemon world.

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I squeeze the juice of two more Meyer lemons into the jar and then shut the lid (thereby squeezing more juice out of the lemons inside). I then put the whole contraption on my bookcase, just a foot or two away from my DEAD FLOWERS (replacements will be purchased today).

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And so the journey begins.

With any luck, this project will turn out better than The Parsley Chronicles or Project Scallion. But who knows…

19 replies on “JOURNEY OF THE PRESERVED LEMONS: Chapter 1 — It Begins”

  1. What happens next?
    I never heard of this process, and now I’m intrigued.
    I love lemons (especially Limoncello :))

  2. Interesting, what can you do with these? Are they sweet? and are they good to use for the above mentioned limoncello? or Lemonade? or Long Island iced tea??
    But they make a nice decoration on your book shelf

  3. They look pretty in the jar but I too wonder what do you do with them? And the salt may look pretty in pictures but it also grosses me out, I do not like salty things.

  4. What do you use these for? At first glance I thought you were adding sugar which I think would be delish with a shot of vodka.

  5. You rinse the salt off before using. The lemons are great for seasoning most any food and the rind is edible.
    The jar MUST be filled to the top with lemon juice or a mold can form. Sprinkling of sea salt before putting on the lid will also help keep mold away.

    1. Yep B – hurry up and add more lemon juice. I’ve read about white mold covering the top.

  6. OD,
    Is there anything in your world that cannot be made more delicious by a shot of vodka?

  7. OD- I like how you think!

    B- I hope that you don’t get moldy lemons. I guess in your sophisticated world, when life gives you lemons- you preserve them. 🙂

  8. I think we have the same shelf from Ikea, upon which your citrus items and dead flowers rest.
    My grandma had a Myer lemon tree in her back yard and would make the most incredible lemon square out of them. Perhaps an idea for you to try??
    Even if the lemons don’t turn out–they sure do look pretty!!

  9. Yep, you better get them covered soon or you will not be a happy canner.
    I recommend you think about pickles or Kimshi next.

  10. Don’t worry, everyone. The lemons let out a lot of liquid overnight. Plus, I squeezed another lemon’s worth of juice in there. They aren’t totally submerged yet, but less than an inch away. Should be okay.

  11. I’m so jealous! I love lemons and I doubt I’ll ever find Meyer lemons in Ohio. So sad:(

    1. knn
      I found a dwarf meyer lemon tree from Gurney’s (only $12.95)it won’t get too big – so I can bring it in during the WV winter.

  12. I received two dozen meyer lemons at Christmas from a relative that has a tree. I juiced them all and have just about a quarter cup left. You can freeze the juice into cubes. I highly recommend the lemon squares as The Wonk suggests. Adding a dash of juice here and there to anything we’ve made has improved the final outcome. Especially drinks.

  13. btw B- please explain the Nancy Grace joke b/c I don’t get it and I watch her show.

    or- just send me the bookmark.

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