Layers: Preserved Lemons

From Big ‘Dawg Eats

I’m a planner, by professional trade as well as personal habit, which doesn’t translate into action nearly enough.  I have lists.  Tons of lists.  One list item that existed for more than 5 years was to grow my own citrus trees – lemon, lime, and orange.  This year in early spring, I ordered a Meyer Lemon and a Bearss Lime from Four Winds Growers in California.  They came loaded with flowers and fruited brilliantly.  In late spring I made my semi-weekly visit to Lowes to find that they had a huge supply of citrus trees, most already covered in fruit.  I bought another Meyer lemon and a Mandarin Orange.  Later in the season I got an unlabeled lime that turned out to be a Key Lime.  So I now have five trees, all producing fruit.  I made Key Lime pie with the Key Limes.  The Mandarin Oranges have gone into salads.   I used the Bearss for various meals and cocktails.  A few lemons have gone into various main courses, but I have a current excess of lemons.  What to do?  Make preserved lemons.

I’ve seen several variations on preserved lemons, so I settled on recipes from two favorite cookbooks: Babbo and Bouchon.  Surprisingly, the Bouchon version is simple and fast:  slice the lemons paper thin, reassemble them by alternating a dusting of sugar and of salt.  Store for 24 hours in the fridge, cover with olive oil, then let sit for three days. Done.  The Babbo version requires more inactive time.  Cut similar to a tulip (quartered but with one end still intact), place in a jar and completely surround and cover the lemons with salt.  Pour the juice of four lemons over the top and let them sit for one month.

So now that you have preserved lemons, how and when are they used?  Add them to stocks, stews, salads, dressings and sauces for a nice citrus punch.  And they keep for months.  The oil from the Bouchon version can be saved and reused in other dishes, as can the salt from the Babbo version.

MAB

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