A: Making lemon season last…

HOW EXPENSIVE ARE PRESERVED LEMONS IN THE SHOPS?????????

Now, I do like what Maggie Beer has done for the profile of Australian produce, but A$10.45 for 300g of preserved lemons? NOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!! Other producers tend to hover around that price range as well, making it one of the most profitable items on supermarket shelves to date I’m sure!

I say so only because I know so. I have been making my own preserved lemons for a while now and though I get my lemons mostly for free when in season, they’re really not that expensive. I use rock salt for preserving my lemons which again, isn’t the most extravagant of ingredients. So, in my quest to put preserved lemon-sellers out of business, here goes my recipe which by the way keeps indefinitely in the fridge once opened. Really, it does. I have read accounts of cooks leaving it on their counter-tops and topping up their jars with fresh lemons and salt when running low. Google it, you’d be surprised!

Preserved lemons

Ingredients:

Lemons (Meyer lemons make the sweetest, most divine preserved lemons. But whatever you can get your hands on will be just fine.)

Rock salt (roughly 3 tablespoons per lemon plus extra 1/4 cup for the jar)

Enough jars for your lemons (or lemons for your jars, depending on how you operate.)

Bay leaves, cardamom pods, black peppercorns, fresh red chillies, whatever you like!

Olive oil

Method:

1. Place spices into the bottom of a sterilized jar.

2. Soak lemons in water for up to 3 days, changing the water daily. This apparently disperses bitter/acidic gases or something like that. I find that it softens the skin and really does sweeten the lemons.

3. Cut length-ways down the lemon in a criss-cross fashion about 3/4 way through each lemon. If your jars are smaller, cut each lemon length-ways in half then 3/4 way in half again.

4. Fill cracks of lemon with as much salt as it will hold then really pack the lemon into the jar. It’s okay if you squeeze some juice out. (Best to do this over a bowl so you don’t waste any juice or salt!)

5. Keep going until you absolutely cannot fill the jar anymore. Add all the salt and juice from your bowl, plus the juice from an additional lemon and about 1/4 cup of salt.

6. Fill jar with hot water then leave for a few minutes to get rid of all the bubbles. Top up with olive oil and put the lid on.

7. Leave in a dark place for 4 weeks (at least) before using. Refrigerate once opened and take pleasure in knowing that you have just saved yourself at least $10.

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