Sunday, June 14, 2009

A Taste of Morocco - Preserved Lemons

Preserved lemon is one of my favourite ingredients, with it's exotic, unique flavour and ability to take a simple dish to a whole other level. It is an absolute must when cooking a Moroccan style stew or tagine, but it is also great in dressings and marinades or scattered through a vegetarian cous-cous or with grilled vegetables. The flavour is quite strong, so it is important to excercise a touch of restraint when using this ingredient. Chop it finely and add small amounts to start with. Taste your dish as you go until you are happy with the intensity. When using preserved lemon be sure to remove all of the flesh and scrape away the white pith. You use only the skin of the lemon which contains all the lovely citrus oils. The rest will usually be very salty and is not suitable for use.

If you have ever seen preserved lemons in your grocer or gourmet store you will know that they can be quite expensive. Luckily for us, they are ridiculously easy and inexpensive to make yourself, especially right now when lemons are cheap and plentiful. Just be sure to make them at least 4 weeks before you want to use them - they take that long to be ready. Once they are, they keep for months and you will have this exotic and delicious ingredient on hand to add a touch of Morocco to your cooking.

You will need: Whole lemons (today I used Eureka lemons), bay leaves, cloves, cinnamon (quills or bark - not powder) salt, lemon juice and a jar/jars with tight fitting lids. Avoid using metal lids, as the salt will make them corrode.
Method: Wash the whole lemons in warm water and dry them. Slice them as if you are cutting them into quarters - starting at the non-stalk end - but don't cut right through to the bottom so they stay in one piece. You should be able to open them up like the petals of a flower.
Place a few cloves inside each lemon and then push them into the jar, layering the sea salt, a few cloves, bay leaf and cinnamon. When the jar is full, top up with extra salt and lemon juice and seal the jar tightly.
Store in a cupboard away from direct light for at least 4 weeks. During the preserving time, give the jar a shake every few days to incorporate the ingredients. Top up with extra lemon juice if you need to.


  1. What a lovely bowl there! I gave Sara one of the Jengala plates for her birthday yesterday.

    I am looking forward to making the preserved lemons in Ireland as they are a bit more difficult to get here in Singapore.

  2. I love my Jengala bowl - I use it a lot and I'm glad I lugged it all the way home from Indonesia!Actually, I wish I had bought a couple of them.... I will be doing some recipes with preserved lemon once they are ready in a few weeks.

  3. I always had a couple of jars in the cupboard in Sydney. Always handy to "tart" up a dish.