Pickled Lemons are a fabulous and exotic ingredient, they are most commonly used in Moroccan and middle eastern cuisine, for example in Tagine or couscous, but will impart an intense tangy lemony flavour to any savoury dish. In terms of both time and money they are a great value item to make, as they are quick to prepare and use only salt and lemons.
One thing to note however is that as pickled lemons need three to four months to mature and become ready for use, if you are planning to make them to give as gifts you will have to allow sufficient time for this. Once they are ready Pickled Lemons have a shelf life of between four and six months, depending how warm the weather, is so it is vital to label the jars with the date they were made. It is also important to explain or at least indicate on the label that the flesh of the lemons should be discarded and the skin washed in cold water to remove as much of the salt as possible before using in a recipe. It is best to store them in the fridge once they have been opened.
What you will need
* Lemons, unwaxed, organic lemons are best but well scrubbed waxed lemons will do too if these are not available or prohibitively expensive
* Salt, although I prefer to use sea salt there is no chemical difference between this and ordinary cooking salt so it is down to your personal preference and what you would like to put on your label!
* Extra lemon juice
* Whole Bay Leaves
* Whole Black Peppercorns
* Attractive Jars (if you are planning to give your pickled lemons away as gifts match the size of the jar to the amount the recipient might use!)
Wash and sterilise your jars before you begin
Wash and scrub the lemons, then cut off a small disc from each end, discard these then, depending on the size of the lemons cut into 4, 6 or 8 segments. Put the slices of lemon into a large, china, earthenware or glass bowl (do not use metal it may react with the acid in the lemons) Cover the lemon with salt and leave overnight.
The following day, press the lemons pieces to extract some of the juice, but do not crush them. Now pack the lemon into the jars and pack the spaces with dry salt as you do so. At this point add the bay leaves and peppercorns around the sides of the jars. Once the jars are full add lemon juice to within 5 cms of the tops of the jars then fill to just below the brim with boiling water. Put tops on the jars then turn them over, to allow the liquid to fill all the air spaces. Remove the lids and top up the liquid with more boiling water. In order to ensure the lemons remain immersed in the liquid I put one or two wine corks on top before putting the lid on.
Put in a cool place, turning the jars once a fortnight, they are ready to use when the lemon skin becomes transparent.