Homemade Preserved Lemons – Every year, I try to make a number of homemade Christmas gifts for my family and friends and over the next few weeks I'll be posting a number of DIY gift ideas on my blog. To my family and friends, avert your eyes, forget you saw any of these photos and back away from your computer.
As you've probably already noticed, I really enjoy cooking. I am particularly drawn to really flavorful dishes (my chicken noodle soup recipe is a great example). I love adding sauces, flavored vinegars, fresh herbs and spices, etc to my food to enhance the taste. This year I've decided to make lemon preserve, a traditional North African staple that often goes with food like Moroccan chicken, festive salads or tagines (a stew like dish that's named after the pot it’s cooked in). Preserved lemons are also great in grain salads, salad dressings, sauces, salsa, dips and pasta. These preserved lemons are bursting with rich flavor and are also beautiful to look at in the jar. I'm also including free printable gift tags here to go with the jars as well as printable recipe ideas here.
- Lemons (organic if possible): 2-3 lemons for a small jar, 3-4 lemons for a medium jar and 5-6 lemons for a large jar + a couple extra for any extra lemon juice you need to fill the jar
- Sea or Kosher salt: 1 tbsp + 1 tsp for each lemon
- Cinnamon stick: 1 for each jar (broken in half for the smaller jars)
- Coriander seeds: 8-10 seeds for a small jar, 14-16 seeds for a medium jar and 20-24 seeds for a large jar
- Black peppercorns: 3-4 peppercorns for small jar, 6-8 peppercorns for medium jar and 10-12 for a large jar
- Cloves: 3-4 cloves for small jar, 6-8 cloves for medium jar and 8-10 cloves for a large jar
- Bay leaf: 1 leaf for a small jar, 2 leaves for a medium jar and 2 leaves for a large jar
- Sharp knife and cutting board
- Sterile mason jars (I used a variety of sizes but the medium or larger jars are easier to work with)
- Scrub lemons clean and then dry them off completely.
- Cut off the little nub on the ends of the lemon and then ¼ the lemons to within ½” of the bottom (so it makes an X shape), making sure that the lemon pieces remain connected.
- Take your jar and add 1 tbsp of salt to the bottom of the jar.
- Pull your lemon open and pack about 1 tsp of salt into the lemon and then push the salted lemon into the bottom of the jar, squishing it down as much as possible. Add a few coriander seeds, peppercorns and cloves (I like them along the side of the jar so you can see them). Add a bay leaf and cinnamon stick (on the side it possible). Repeat this until your jar is pretty much full (feel free to cut the last few pieces of lemon into individual separated 1/4's so that you can stuff the jar as full as possible).
- If your lemons aren't completely covered with juice, add a little extra fresh squeezed juice until everything is covered in liquid. Throw in a last sprinkling of salt over the top.
- Seal the jar and let sit (in a cool or refrigerated spot if possible) for at least 1 month (if this is a Christmas gift, feel free to put a note with the jar that says: “not to be opened before day/month/year” – see photos below).