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Monday, March 29, 2010

meyer lemon fest part 1: preserved

i went on a meyer lemon spree the other week. they were in season (though these did come from california, i should point out), so there were a ton of great looking ones at PCC natural markets. i really love meyer lemons-- they are sweeter than the average lemon, perfumy, thin-skinned, and are the most gorgeous color of yellow that i believe there exists in nature. i've read in a couple of places that they may be lemons crossed with some sort of sweet orange, but i can't confirm that. i can only declare with certainty that they are a gorgeous citrus treat. 

my plan for all the lemons i bought included preserving some. i've never worked with preserved lemons before, and frankly only know they exist because i've heard them referenced on shows like top chef. but, reading as many food blogs as i do, i realized that everyone else was doing it, so i would, too. the recipe takes a total of 5 days (non-active time) and requires a jar with a tight-fitting lid big enough to hold 6 cut-up lemons (or several smaller jars).

preserved meyer lemons
gourmet, december 1999 

2 1/2 - 3 lbs meyer lemons (10-12 count)
2/3 cup coarse salt (i used kosher)
1/4 cup olive oil

blanch 6 lemons in boiling water 5 minutes. (i actually blanched closer to 3 after reading complaints in the reviews about the lemons being too soft and difficult to handle and i had no problems.) let cool. cut lemons into 8 wedges and discard seeds. toss with the salt and put in a jar with a tight-fitting lid. 

squeeze the remaining lemons to get enough juice to cover the wedges in the jar. cover jar with lid and let stand at room temperature 5 days, shaking gently once a day. at this point i transferred them into two jars, and topped each with half of the olive oil. keep chilled.

refrigerated they will keep for about a year, but i doubt it will take me that long to use them up. 

i'm not entirely sure what i'll do with them. i know they show up in moroccan and northern african cooking a good bit. i don't do much of that style, but this is certainly motivation to give it a try. one thing i tried already was to use the leftover brine after the jar transfer in place of olive juice as a twist on a dirty martini. quite nice! i can also imagine a piece or two thin sliced with some asparagus and pasta, or even in something like a fresh tuna salad. these just may become a new kitchen necessity.


  1. Simon and I love lemons! Not quite as much as we love limes, but lemons are right up there. I think I might have to go get one so that we can eat it.

  2. me too! i'm looking forward to doing some creating with these. enjoy your lemon!

  3. Where did you buy the jars?

  4. one is an old mason jar with a mismatched "osterizer blend and store" top (circa 1970-something) from an estate sale, and the pretty one is from a store in seattle called mrs cooks. they have tons of fun jars!

  5. We have several meyer lemon trees where we live here on Cumberland Island, GA. I posted on my blog about them. Ive only been blogging since Feb, so probably easy to find.
    I thought of making these, but decided I would get more use out of freezing them...
    Still have a few on the tree now. I always leave a few as they last the longest there.

  6. sandra! i'm from georgia-- americus, sumter county! i have always wanted to visit cumberland. i adore the georgia coast, but never made it to your wild island. my brother went camping there two weeks ago and i was totally jealous.

    as for lemons, some people grow them here, but it's a chore, of course, to keep them warm and happy. having several producing trees sounds like a dream!

  7. I love preserved lemons, I've got three jars floating around at the moment. They are great in salads, rice, I put them on fish. I've even seen people put the peel in a martini.

  8. mmm, martini! i'm definitely looking forward to having them with fish. i hadn't even thought about salads, though!