Preserved Lemons

Come the autumn, my mum will settle for nothing less than two full cupboards of jams, pickles, preserves and chutneys. On coming in the front door, I never know whether my nose will be invaded by the powerful aroma of malt vinegar, or enticed by the warm sweet smell of gently bubbling raspberry jam.

This Autumn I plan to make my own cupboard full of preserves, and I have started with lemons. I made the preserved lemons last Wednesday afternoon following the Ottolenghi recipe, which requires unwaxed lemons, coarse sea salt, rosemary, chilli, lemon juice and olive oil. Over the last week the salted, almost-quartered lemons have sat in their sterilized preserving jar in the cupboard; or in my case, are pulled out daily to have a peek at the shrinking process. The Sodium Chloride gradually coaxes bitter droplets from the fruit which, over the course of the week, trickle down to form a reservoir of salty juice in the bottom of the jar.

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

Day 5

Day 6

As the fruit shrinks, the liquid level rises. This afternoon, I squeezed the remaining juice from the lemons, then I added rosemary, chilli and extra lemon juice. A layer of oil on top ensures that no bacteria get in while the fruit preserves.

Day 7

Day 7 top view

Now its just a matter of waiting four weeks until they are ready. That gives me plenty of time to think up some tasty recipes!

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