Savory, preserved lemons are not something that we often use in Western cuisine. When we think of using preserved lemons in a dish, we typically think of Moroccan and Middle Eastern dishes, but preserved lemons can add a punch of flavor to many types of dishes. I've listed some ideas below for how to use preserved lemon. I've tried many different versions for preserving lemons. I find the best flavor and most success with this version below. Often, we cover ingredients in lacto-ferments with a liquid brine; however, this method is more similar to sauerkraut. It ferments in salt and it's own juices. If you're not accustomed to using preserved lemons, I suggest starting with just a couple lemons in a pint jar.
1. Wash each lemon thoroughly. Cut the end and tip off each lemon. Slice each lemon and place the wedges or slices in a bowl. Thinner slices will ferment faster and will eventually turn into more of a chutney texture, rather than wedges; so keep that in mind, when determining the size and shape of your slices, depending on which texture you prefer.
2. Add salt and syrup and mix well.
3. Put the mixture in a jar, including the juice that the lemons release.
4. Place a lid on the jar and turn back slightly, so it's not tight (so gas can escape.)
5. Place the jar on the counter at room temperature. Ferment on counter at room temperature for 1-2 weeks. Each day, tighten the lid and shake to redistribute the contents. Press the lemons down into the brine, then place the lid on the jar and turn back slightly. Once the lemons are fully submerged in the brine, you can just leave them fermenting in the brine without shaking each day. Some lemons are more juicy than others, so some batches may release enough juice to cover the lemons in brine and some will not. Taste after 1 week, if you like the taste and texture, place in the fridge to store for up to a year. If you would like it a bit softer ferment for another week, or longer, until the lemons are the texture and flavor you prefer.
6. This ferment will take at least 1-2 weeks to tenderize the lemon rind and develop flavor. The lemons will continue to develop flavor and change in texture over time.
7. If you find the lemon too salty for how you'll be using it, rinse slightly under running water to remove excess salt.
How to Use Preserved Lemons
As a condiment, especially with Middle Eastern Foods
With fish or chicken
Upset tummy; just a small spoonful
Digestive aid; small spoonful alongside meal
In Steamed Vegetables
In a Soup
In a Stew
In Moroccan and Middle Eastern Dishes
In a Salad
In Grain Dishes
Blended into salad dressing