I recently had dinner at Al’s Place and was obsessed with the bright, bold lemon citrus flavors I found in many of the dishes. When I peeked into the kitchen later on, I figured out the secret — many jars of preserved lemons! I’d been meaning to learn how to make preserved lemons for a while, so tasting amazing food with the preserved lemons was a great motivator for learning how to do it myself.
As a mostly vegan, I’ve learned that I need to learn how to pickle food so that I can add more flavor and punch to my food. I’m constantly on the look-out for umami flavors, and this preserved meyer lemon has some lemon-umami intensity to it.
So how do you actually use preserved lemons, and why are they better than using fresh lemons? It turns out that you can use preserved lemons in any dish that calls for fresh lemons (but not the other way around). They have a very intense citrus flavor that you can’t mimic with a fresh lemon. Since you use the lemon peel (instead of the flesh), you get some wonderful floral flavors as well. To use, you rinse the lemon in cool water to remove excess salt, and then use chopped up bits of the rind, which has mellowed out in bitterness after exposure to salt and time. You can save the flesh of the lemon for salad dressing.
Once you preserve them in salt, they’re good for a year.