To make preserved lemons (also called pickled lemons), you'll need:
- 5 (or more) fresh, washed lemons
- Fresh lemon juice from 2 (or more) lemons
- A clean glass jar barely large enough to accommodate the lemons
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup of kosher salt
If you're using the small Moroccan doqq or boussera lemons, remove the stems, make an incision or two near the top of the lemon, but otherwise leave the lemons whole.
If you're using another variety of lemon, remove the stems and cut off the tips. Cut each lemon lengthwise into quarters, but be very careful not cut all the way through – about 3/4 of the way down is enough. This way the quarters should still be attached at the base.
- If you've partially quartered the lemons, pack the crevices with lots of kosher salt, close the lemons and place them in the jar. Moroccan lemons which have been left intact need only to be placed in the jar with ample additions of salt between each lemon.
Ideally, you want the lemons to be packed very tightly. Compress the lemons as you add them to the jar to release their juices.
Add the fresh lemon juice and a generous sprinkling of the salt. Cover the lemons tightly, and set aside in a cool, dark place. A cupboard or food pantry is fine.
Every two or three days, open the jar and compress the lemons to release more juices. If you have room to add another lemon, you can. Do this for the first week, or until the lemons are submerged in juice.
The lemons will be pickled and ready to use in about four weeks to five weeks, once the rinds are very soft. You can continue to preserve them longer if you like. Once opened, transfer the jar to the refrigerator, where they should keep well for several months.
Rinse the lemons before using to remove excess salt and any film that may have formed in the liquid. Use the rind, finely chopped, in salads. In tagines, stews and sauces, remove the seeds and use the quarters, with or without flesh. Leaving the flesh will impart a stronger lemon flavor.