Moroccan Preserved Lemons for Tagine

A couple of years ago, after I admired it in the Le Creuset outlet store in Williamsburg, Dan gave me a beautiful tagine (Moroccan cooking pot) for Christmas, along with a Moroccan cookbook. I haven’t used it a whole lot, but it looks great in the kitchen ;-)

Tagine (Moroccan cooking pot)

I want to use it more, but it seems like most of the recipes call for preserved lemons, which I haven’t been able to find around here. Preserved lemons are used as a flavoring in Moroccan cuisine, especially stews. The preservation method softens the lemons skins, like watermelon rind pickles, and gives a sharp lemony-salty kick to the dish.

It costs $10 for two preserved lemons in a jar from an online source, which seems like a lot to me. So I’ve just kept putting it off. I’ve thought about making my own preserved lemons; there’s a recipe for them in the book. But I’ve felt uncomfortable about the idea. Would I poison us?

But then, if you look at the recipe, the lemons are brined for a month in pure lemon juice and salt. Not much could survive that environment. And since I canned homemade salsa, watermelon rind and hot peppers last summer, I feel a lot more comfortable about preserving food at home.

Then in January, Andrea of Andrea’s Recipes wrote a blog post on making preserved lemons. A couple of weeks later, another food blog I follow, Food in Jars, posted an article on preserved limes that referred to a previous post on preserved lemons. The article on preserved lemons had over 70 comments where people described different ways of using the preserves.

So finally, on March 4, I made preserved lemons. They’re still softening up in the fridge, but they should come out nicely in another 10 days or so. And they’ll keep for at least a year. Can’t wait to start using them.

Making preserved lemons

Preserved Lemons

Adapted from “Cooking at the Kasbah: Recipes from My Moroccan Kitchen” by Kitty Morse

The traditional method for preserving lemons involves cutting the lemons a different way and sprinkling salt into the cuts; I found it awkward, so I just cut the lemons into wedges. This also makes it easier to remove a small amount for a recipe.

  • 1 dozen lemons, five cut into eight wedges, the rest reserved for juicing (I bought organic lemons, since we’re eating the rind)
  • 1/2 cup pickling salt or fine sea salt (kosher salt isn’t a good choice because you want the salt to dissolve quickly)
  • 1 quart-size canning jar
  • Place the salt in a medium bowl. Press both sides of each lemon wedge into the salt and place into the canning jar. Juice the remaining lemons until the juice covers the wedges in the jar. Cover and refrigerate. Turn the jar gently every few days to redistribute the wedges. They’re ready to use after 30 days.

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3 Responses to “Moroccan Preserved Lemons for Tagine”

  • Dan says:

    Got some good eats coming my way. Love Moroccan food.

  • Kitty Morse says:

    Thank you for mentioning my book, Cooking at the Kasbah, as well as my method for making preserved lemons. The recipe I cite in ALL my (5) Moroccan cookbooks comes from my great grandmother.

    The principal ingredient in preserving lemons is PATIENCE. I have been teaching that method for over 30 years.

    Many commercially available, so-called “preserved” lemons, float in water. They NOT preserved.

    Bismillah,

    Kitty

    Krep on cooking and preserving lemons. I hav be

  • KimL says:

    Hi, and thank you for visiting my blog! What a nice surprise :-) I love your book for the vivid descriptions of the culture and food. And thanks for the tip on commercially “preserved” lemons.

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