Preserved lemons (“Things to do with lemons”)

What to do with 30 freshly picked lemons without spending endless hours drilling them out to make lemon sorbets (more about that in a later post!)

There always seems to be a glut of lemons here in Kefalonia, which is perhaps why all meat dishes – well, most recipes here in fact – have a lemon added to them, or at least a lemon sitting decoratively on the side of the plate.
There’s just so much lemon juice a freezer can take!  And my recent foray into the world of filling citrus fruit with sorbet is definitely not energy, or quantity, efficient.

When I was given all these lemons by our neighbours I had a momentary panic.  Like most people, I hate wastage, and I just couldn’t think past lemon ice cubes and drizzle cake.  Then I pictured our kitchen counter back home; we still have a jar of preserved lemons – a lone lemon left – that I made a year ago, a recipe taken from Ottolenghi’s first cook book.
So that’s what I’ve started.  Two jars for us and some smaller jars for presents.  Patience is required because the end result takes a minimum of  5 weeks 🙂

preserved lemons part 1


Ingredients per jar:

6 organic unwaxed lemons
6 tbsp salt
3 sprigs rosemary
3 small hot chillies (optional)
juice of 6 lemons
olive oil


Sterilize your jar – I put mine in a hot oven.  Make a horizontal, then a vertical cut (yes, otherwise known as a cross!) in the lemons, about 3/4 of the way down so they stay attached at the bottom.  Fill each one with salt and then place into your jar, squeezing them down so it’s a really nice tight fit.
Seal the jar and leave for a week on the kitchen counter.

Part 2: one week later

Push the lemons down with a wooden spoon, or anything that will apply pressure and release the juices without squashing the lemons completely out of shape.
Add the rosemary, chilies and lemon juice, and then finish off with a thin layer of olive oil.
Seal the jar and leave another 4 weeks in a cool place (THAT will be the challenge here in these Greek 35 degree summer days!)
Add it chopped or sliced to any meat dish or stew for that lovely lemony flavour.


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