Preserved, salted lemons, or L'Hamb Marakad ( or 'Sleeping Lemons') so popular now in many upscale restaurants and on cooking shows is easy - and if you keep a lemon tree on your window sill, you might be thinking about what you could do with all of those lemons which are now ripening around the New Year. Here is a recipe for Preserved Moroccan Lemons that is easy, and uses up many of those extra lemons. Of course, you can just buy a bag at the market right now while they are in season as well, as make it with those.
I made these with our friend Kelly Marsh, a rather talented pastry chef and a fellow Irish Terrier breeder (she helped breed our current grand champion 'Weasley' who is headed off to Westminster Kennel Club next month), Kelly spent New Year's Eve with us, and in an effort to distract us from any pesky hangover's and flower parades, we decided to make pickled lemons. Our Meyer Lemon trees in the greenhouse are so heavy with fruit, that they are falling over in their pots.
Preserved or pickled lemons are a preserved fruit, commonly used in many ethnic cuisines. They popular in Cambodia, and in the Middle East, most commonly associated with Morocco. There are many recipes, some with spices others, using just salt. This is a simple and basic recipe. They can be used after one month of fermenting in all sorts of dished ranging from cous cous to tagines. I could buy a jar at our local Turkish market, or I could just make some - it's very simple ( just lemons, and salt). Here is how we did it:
L'Hamb Marakad, الحامض مرقد or Preserved Salted Lemons
Here is what you will need:
- a 1 quart glass jar with a tight fitting lid
- 12 Meyer Lemons, or a sweet lemon variety like 'Ciron beldi'. (12 or more when tightly packed)
- 1/2 cup of sea salt or Kosher salt
1. Add a tablespoon of salt to the bottom of the jar before packing lemons.
2. Cut lemons into quarters, but only deep enough so that the quarters remain connected at the stem end.
2. Rub salt into the quartered lemons, and rub salt all over them ( don't worry, you will wash off the salt before you cook or eat them).
3. Add lemons to the jar one by one, squeezing in as many as you can, tightly.
4. Layer with salt, as you go, and try to get as many lemons as you can into the jar. I even add some lemon halves to fill in the spaces.
5. Top off the jar with another tablespoon of sea salt, seal and cover with a tight lid.
The preserved lemons will be ready in 1 months time, as the juices mingle with the salt, and they begin to ferment. If you can find them, the smaller 'petit doqq' lemons found in Morocco are most favored, but any sweet lemon will do with 'Meyer' being the easiest to find. I tried to pick the smallest lemons from our trees so that I could fit as many into the jar - a bit of a luxury on a snowy day in New England in January, but one which requires very little effort at all, as the lemons bloom and set fruit during the summer by themselves, and then are just brought into the greenhouse in the autumn, where they ripen and are ready to pick in January. Remember, they can also be grown in the winter on a cool, sunny windowsill if you have one.