Saving the Citrus Harvest: Preserved Lemons



A few weeks ago, I wrote about the polenta with preserved lemon and goat cheese at The Silly Goose. I made an error in the original post, stating the polenta was made with lemon preserve instead of preserved lemon. Many thanks to commenter The Saint for pointing out the discrepancy, since there is a big difference between lemon preserves and preserved lemons.

As The Saint mentioned, “lemon preserve” suggests something akin to a jam or marmalade; something sweet. But preserved lemons are entirely different as they are only mildly sweet (depending on the type of lemon), but mostly sour. The lemons are preserved in salt (and sometimes with other seasonings, such bay leaf or coriander) and when ready, you only use the softened rinds of the lemon. And you do so sparingly.

Inspired by Roderick Bailey’s polenta at The Silly Goose, I decided to start a small batch of preserved lemons myself. I just got a small bag of organic Meyer lemons and used a simple recipe from Serious Eats. Coincidentally, Karl Worley of Biscuit Love Truck was preserving Meyer lemons himself at the same time, and I asked about his recipe. Like me, he decided to use only salt for preserving (some recipes call for cinnamon or other spices), noting that he prefers to add other seasonings as he cooks, as necessary.

Though if you’re looking for something different (and actually even a bit easier, it seems), Philip Krajeck of Rolf and Daughters shared his recipe for preserved lemons with Bon Appétit (also on His uses coriander seeds and turmeric.

Many recipes using preserved lemon will be Moroccan or Moroccan-inspired for chicken or fish, but this post from NPR’s Kitchen Window offers some other ideas, including a recipe for Root Vegetable Couscous with Preserved Lemon that will be on my table soon. That is, in a few weeks when my preserved lemons are ready.

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