Lemons are an indispensable part of Levantine cuisine. Imagine hummus or baba ghanoush without the beautiful acidity of lemons! Read my guide to learn more about the typical flavours of the Levant. Salt lemons, however, are more commonly attributed to Moroccan cuisine and are an integral part of many of Morocco's delicious traditional dishes. They bring not only a pleasantly aromatic acidity to the dishes, but also a distinctive fruity note. No wonder that lemons preserved in salt and lemon juice have also made it to the Levant and the rest of the world.
All you need: lemons and salt
Fresh organic lemons and a whole lot of salt - Basically, you don't need any other ingredients for salted lemons. It's super important that the lemons are untreated, as you'll be preserving them whole afterwards.
As short as the list of ingredients is, the preparation is actually very easy. Wash the lemons well, cut them open, fill them with salt and put them in a preserving jar. Fill the jar with freshly squeezed lemon juice. If you think that the squeezed lemons have to go in the rubbish, I have good news for you: They simply go into the glass too. So nothing is wasted.
Salted lemons with your favourite flavour
If you like, you can also flavour the lemons to your own taste. I used very basic bay leaves and coriander seeds for the recipe. But you can really let off steam and experiment.
Here is a small list of aromatics for inspiration:
- Bay leaves
- Garlic cloves
- Cinnamon sticks
- Caraway seeds
- Cumin seed
- Coriander seeds
- Edible rose petals
You probably already realise that preserving lemons is much more than just preserving them. It opens up a whole new world of flavours for your favourite dishes.
Salted lemons are fantastic for:
- Hearty stews
- fresh salads
- Pilafs / rice pots
- or just for a snack
By the way, salted lemons are no longer so blatantly sour, but rather tart and spicy and incredibly aromatic. For my recipe, I don't dilute the lemon juice with water or add oil. Rather, everything should develop from the lemons, the salt and the aromatics. The essential oils that come out in the process will give your dishes that final freshness kick.
How to make your own salted lemons
- 7 Lemons (organic!!)
- 60 g Salt
- 4 Bay leaves
- 4 TSP Coriander seeds
- Heat the preserving jars (without rubber band) in the oven at approx. 140 °C for approx. 15 minutes on the rack. Then leave to cool.
- Squeeze half of the lemons.
- Cut the other half of the lemons deeply crosswise at one end and gently pull the lemons apart at the elongated quarters. (But do not cut them into quarters or separate them completely. To fill the jar, you can also cut them in half if necessary).
- Fill the lemons with salt, bay leaf and coriander seeds (or the desired flavouring) and press the quarters together again.
- Place lemons very close together in preserving jars, pressing well.
- Fill the glasses with lemon juice.
- Leave in the jar at room temperature for 1 day and then squeeze the lemons again into the liquid if necessary or top up with more lemon juice.
- Leave to ferment in a cool, dry place for at least 1 week. Keeps refrigerated for at least 1 month.