Sometime a year ago, I read an article or a blog post about preserving lemons, and the process intrigued me. A few days later, I bought a jar from Ikea and planned to pickle my own bundle of citrus, but as is often the case, extreme laziness overwhelmed me, and for many months now, the jar has stood empty (save for a two week impasse where it temporarily housed chocolate-covered espresso beans). Well, this weekend I sauntered over to the Hollywood Farmer’s market where I not only saw Coolio and Aisha Tyler, but several Meyer lemons. I’ve never actually had these prized lemons before, and if I have, I don’t remember the experience. All I know is that everyone — from Food Network personalities to Internet babblers — seems to adore these seasonal treats. Seeing them in abundance at the Farmer’s Market, I suddenly had my lightbulb moment. I would make preserved lemons from them! This was especially convenient since lately I’ve been yearning for a good tagine, and preserved lemons are an integral ingredient to such dishes. With perhaps a rabid ferociousness in my eyes, I quickly scooped up ten lemons (the lady behind the counter then gave me an eleventh on the house), and soon I was back at my apartment, ready to start what will be a three week journey. A journey.. OF THE PRESERVED LEMONS!
My bowl of Meyer lemons, with a few limes thrown in for good measure.
Someone (I forget who) once gave me a Nancy Grace bookmark; so of course I took a picture of it with the Meyer lemons. Get it?
Nancy Meyer lemons! It’s complicated…
Nancy does NOT approve of the pun.
There were a lot of different instructions for how to prepare preserved lemons. Some said scrub the lemons rigorously. Others said blanch them in boiling water. The latter option seemed most effective; so that’s what I did (in batches). That’s good blanch!
The lemons, post blanch.
The stage is set.
I have to cut every lemon in half, and every half in quarters. However, I’m not supposed to cut all the way through the rind so that the pieces remain connected.
I don’t know why it’s important to keep the halves intact. It just is.
Next I have to slather the lemons in salt. Lots and lots of salt.
After about ten minutes, the jar is chock full o’ lemons. Seven in total.
This is like the VW Beetle of the lemon world.
I squeeze the juice of two more Meyer lemons into the jar and then shut the lid (thereby squeezing more juice out of the lemons inside). I then put the whole contraption on my bookcase, just a foot or two away from my DEAD FLOWERS (replacements will be purchased today).
And so the journey begins.
With any luck, this project will turn out better than The Parsley Chronicles or Project Scallion. But who knows…