Preserved lemons guidelines

Discussion in 'Food & Cooking' started by chefwriter, Nov 23, 2016.

  1. chefwriter

    chefwriter

    Messages:
    1,863
    Likes Received:
    411
    Exp:
    Professional Cook
         I am working on my first batch of preserved lemons. I didn't get an answer after reading through the threads so thought I'd start a new one.

     How much salt is too much? Can there be too much salt?

    Three recipes I've read state 1/4 cup for each 5 lemons, approximately. But then advise to squeeze another five lemons for juice to cover the lemons, then dispose of the squeezed lemons.  This seems wasteful. 

    As salt is a natural preservative and the end use is just the rind, I am inclined to simply wedge the lemons, pour a generous amount of pickling salt and some sugar over them and put them in the crock to ferment. 

    Is it really necessary to measure the salt?
     
  2. phatch

    phatch Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    8,641
    Likes Received:
    554
    Exp:
    I Just Like Food
    The juice is used too. So having the right salt balance makes sense to me.
     
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2016
  3. french fries

    french fries

    Messages:
    5,272
    Likes Received:
    344
    Exp:
    At home cook
    You use just as much salt as needed to avoid waste - but there cannot be too much salt. You rinse the lemons prior to use. I've never used the juice. It's not necessary to measure the salt. Keep in mind lemons come in all sizes and amount of juice, and whoever wrote "1/4 cup" has no idea how big or juicy your lemons are. Common sense goes further than reading a recipe here. 

    I recommend you pour the salt on the wedges before you wedge the lemons in the jar. That way you'll get salt everywhere, not just at the top. The way I do it is make knife cuts in the lemon so I can open it up in four wedges - but the wedges are still attached at the bottom end of the lemon. Then I generously shake salt inside the lemon, close it back and wedge it in. 

    Once you've done that, you may notice that there isn't enough lemon juice to cover the lemons, which means some of it is still in contact with air, and could start rotting. So you juice a few more lemons and pour the juice in the jar until your lemons are covered with juice by about 1/2". 
     
  4. chefwriter

    chefwriter

    Messages:
    1,863
    Likes Received:
    411
    Exp:
    Professional Cook
    Thank you both for your replies. I sectioned all the lemons completely, tossed them in a bowl with the salt and about 1/2 cup of sugar and packed them in the crock, left with the lid locked shut. After eight hours there is almost enough liquid to cover. I used a potato masher to crush them a bit. I'll wait until morning to see how they are progressing. 

         I used about a cup and a half of salt for twenty lemons. Aldi's had them on sale for $2 a bag.     

    The ones I used for juice I rough chopped and covered them in pickling salt and vinegar. I figured if nothing else they should make a great cleaning aid. 

         I tasted the juice. ( just once.) A bit salty and sour but I think it should make an interesting flavor addition for something. 

    I remembered to label and date the crock so I know how long they've been in there.  I'm looking forward to trying them when they are finished fermenting.

    Thanks again. 
     
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2016
  5. french fries

    french fries

    Messages:
    5,272
    Likes Received:
    344
    Exp:
    At home cook
    Sugar??? /img/vbsmilies/smilies/eek.gif  I've never seen sugar used in preserved lemons. I've seen lemons preserved in salt, and I've seen lemons preserved in olive oil - but never with sugar added. 

    BTW I also highly recommend using organic lemons since you're going to eat the skin. 

    Re: the juice, I have a jar of preserved lemons juice in my fridge, I can't bring myself to throw it away, but I can't think of anything I could do with it. If you have an idea please do share. Perhaps think of it as a flavored salt - rather than trying to use it as a flavoring that's too salty. I guess it could work as a seasoning for certain things... just not sure what. 
     
  6. someday

    someday

    Messages:
    1,614
    Likes Received:
    388
    Exp:
    Professional Chef
    Sugar isn't unusual. Probably not 100% traditional (what ever is though?) but I've done it with sugar many times. Mostly use it to cut down on the saltiness of the lemons and to add another slight dimension to flavor to counter the sour/bitter/salty. A little sweet helps to balance flavors. 

    It also has a similar hygroscopic effect that the salt has, so you still get the moisture wicking quality without too much salt. 

    I've also done mine in a vacuum sealed bag...cut them in 1/4 almost all the way down, pack salt/sugar in the middle, and around the lemons in a bag, seal, and throw in the freezer for 2 months. Works great, takes up less space. 
     
  7. rpooley

    rpooley

    Messages:
    575
    Likes Received:
    54
    Exp:
    Home Cook
    I made my first batch of these a few weeks ago with just lemons and lots of salt.

    Put kosher salt in the bottom of a mason jar and then just started layering lemon wedges and lots of salt.  Left it overnight on the counter and by the morning there was enough juice that the lemons were covered if I pressed them down a bit.

    My favorite way to use them so far:

     
    • 2 cups long-grain rice, preferably Basmati
    • 8 cups water
    • 2 teaspoons salt
    • 2 cloves
    • 2 cardamom pods
    • One 2-inch piece of cinnamon
    • 3 Tbsp vegetable oil (or ghee  if you have it)
    • 1/2 teaspoon dark mustard seeds
    • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
    • 1/4 teaspoon chili flakes
    • 1 medium onion, chopped
    • 3 chopped garlic cloves
    • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
    • 2-3 T minced preserved lemon
    1 Rinse and soak rice:  Place rice in a sieve and run cool water through it to rinse it until the water runs clear. Soak the rice in cool water for 30 minutes. Drain.

    2 Boil rice with cloves, cardamom, cinnamon:  Bring 8 cups of water and the salt to a boil in a large pot. Add the rice and stir. Add the cloves, cardamom and cinnamon and simmer for 10 minutes.

    Taste the rice, and test if it is done to your taste; rice can take more or less time to cook depending on how old it is. If still too firm, cook a few minutes longer.

    3 Drain rice and rinse with cold water, remove spices:  When the rice is cooked to your liking, drain the rice into a colander and rinse with cold water to stop if from cooking.

    Remove the cloves, cardamom and cinnamon and discard. Set the rice aside to drain.

    4 Sauté mustard seeds, cumin, chili flakes, then onion:  In a pan large enough to hold the rice, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the mustard and cumin seeds and the chili flakes.

    Cook until the mustard seeds start popping, then add the onion. Sauté until the onion begins to brown, about 5-7 minutes.

    5 Add garlic, then rice and turmeric:  Add the garlic and sauté another 2-3 minutes. Add the rice, preserved lemon and mix well. Sprinkle the turmeric over the rice and mix well. Cook for another 3-4 minutes, stirring often.