At Long Last: Well, that time you’ve all been waiting for: The report on the preserved lemons. And when I say “you all,” I might only be referring to my mother, Jerusalem Syndrome Blog’s #1 fangirl. At any rate, the results are in and they are delightful. Months ago, I wrote Preserving lemons: Part 1, detailing the quick and simple process of preparing lemons for preservation and promised to write about the end result after the month-plus time it would take for them to preserve in a dark, cool area. I ended up letting them preserve for about 6 weeks before I finally tried them in mid-April, just in time for the height of the artichoke season.
After Two Weeks: Jerusalem: A Cookbook advises that after the initial preserving preparation, you store the lemons in a cool, dark place for at least a week before squeezing out any remaining juice and adding olive oil, rosemary, and a red chile. I left them for two weeks before completing the next step and at that point the coarse salt had drawn out a good deal of the juice. This second step took less than ten minutes and was super simple.
Trying Them Out: The cookbook says they should preserve for at least a month from the start of the process but “the longer you leave them, the better.” I ended up waiting a total of six weeks and used the coincidence of my brother Owen’s visit from Texas and an overstock of artichokes to try them. We trimmed and steamed artichokes and then minced a few pieces of the preserved lemon that we then stirred into unsalted melted butter. Ever the salt lover, I also had to stir in a pinch of freshly ground sea salt.
Once the artichokes were tender, we dipped the leaves in the preserved lemon butter and enjoyed them. It was absolutely delicious and we couldn’t get enough, eating so many of them that it ended up serving as our lunch that day. Owen raved about the preserved lemons and declared that he had to make some for himself when he got home. Folks, these preserved lemons pack a huge wallop flavor with minimal effort—the only challenging thing about preparing them is waiting patiently for them to be ready.
More To Come: Another lovely thing about these preserved lemons is that once you stash them in the fridge, they keep for quite a while. Exactly how long, I don’t know yet, but they’ve been in my fridge since April and are holding up well. I am slightly embarrassed to admit that I have not yet used them for their intended purpose, ingredients in the various Jerusalem recipes that call for them, but now that I’ve resolved to start posting here more regularly again I plan to use them in one of those recipes soon. I’m also tempted to try them in this recipe for Preserved-Lemon Pudding with Basil Syrup from Food & Wine that I came across recently. Jerusalem also offers a recipe for quick pickled lemons that are ready after only 24 hours and I will eventually try that recipe as well, hopefully doing a side-by-side taste test of them against the slower, more demanding of patience preserved lemons.
Talk to Me: If you try this or another recipe for preserved lemons, tell me about it in the comments!