Preserving the Pucker

By Melissa Hamilton

Published on February 27, 2002

When we first tasted Moroccan-style preserved lemons in North Africa, we were smitten with their supple texture and deeply sour flavor. Back home, finding them prepared in jars was so easy, we never thought to make them ourselves. But while researching them for a story, we decided to try it. Following the suggestions of several experts, we quartered lemons nearly to the base, stuffed each with 2 tbsp. coarse salt, pressed them back together, then packed them into a large jar and sealed it with plastic. I pressed them down with a plate daily, and jiggled the jar to dissolve the salt. Gradually, the juice got higher and the lemons got flatter. After a week, I added a 1-inch layer of olive oil and refrigerated them. In a month, they were ready to use. Retrieve them with tongs, not fingers, and rinse them well before using in tagines, with roasted fish, or even with rice.

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