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Preserved lemons

Time 20 minutes, plus 1 week curing
Yields Makes 1 pint jar
Jessica Wang's preserved lemons.
(Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times)
1

Wash the lemons well, using a soft brush if necessary to remove dirt. Trim the stem ends of 3 lemons, then cut each into quarters from the other end without cutting all the way through. Put 1 tablespoon salt into a sanitized pint jar. Pack 1 tablespoon salt into each quartered lemon, then place in the jar. Press down with a sturdy tamper, such as a muddler. Cover with the remaining 2 teaspoons of salt.

2

Squeeze the juice from the remaining lemon and pour into the jar. It should fill the jar with juice, leaving ½ inch headspace from the rim. If it doesn’t, squeeze enough juice from another lemon to fill the jar. Twist on a nonmetal lid until fingertip-tight. If you don’t have a nonreactive lid, use a barrier such as parchment paper cut to fit over the lemons to separate them from the metal lid.

3

Let sit at room temperature for 12 hours. Uncover and press on the lemons firmly to compact. Repeat once or twice daily for 2 to 3 days or until the fruit is softened. They should be submerged in juice the whole time. If not, squeeze more fresh juice and add to the jar to cover the fruit.

4

Store in a cool storage area for 1 to 2 weeks or longer, burping daily by unscrewing the top until carbonation activity slows and gas is not building up. Shake gently occasionally to distribute salt. The preserved lemons are ready when the juices have thickened and the fruit appears “cooked.”

Variations:
Preserved limes: Substitute 1 ¼ pounds limes for the lemons. Trim the stem ends, then cut each fruit in half lengthwise all the way through. Toss the halved limes with the salt and pack into jar. Press juice out of the fruit while packing them. You may need to juice an additional lime to have enough liquid to cover the fruit with an inch of headspace from the rim. Proceed as above, tamping down the fruit to submerge and adding more juice as needed to keep them covered.