Preserved Lemons

Preserved Lemons
Makes 2 pint jars
8 to 9 small Meyer lemons, or 5 to 7 small regular lemons, plus a few
additional for juice.
About 1/2 cup kosher salt
2 bay leaves
2 2-inch-long cinnamon sticks
6 whole cloves

Scrub the lemons. If they are not organic, immerse them in boiling water for 30 seconds to remove any pesticides and wax. Cool them in a  bowl of ice water. Make two deep vertical incisions in each lemon to divide it into quarters, but don’t cut it all the way through. You will have a lemon “flower.” If the lemons are large, you may just want to quarter them and arrange them nicely in the jar after salting.

Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the salt in the bottom of each sterilized jar. Sprinkle the inside of each lemon “flower” with a rounded tablespoon of salt and pack into the jars. Press down as you pack the lemons to release some juice and to fit as many as you can into each jar. Wedge a bay leaf and cinnamon stick between the lemons and the side of the jars. Add the cloves. If needed, add additional lemon juice to cover the lemons. Seal the jars.

Let stand for one week at room temperature, inverting the jars occasionally to distribute the salt and juice. Then store the jars in the refrigerator for up to six months. When the rinds soften (about two weeks), the lemons are ready. To use, rinse lemon, scrape away the pulp, and dice the rind. If white crystals appear, the lemons may still be used. Just rinse them first.

To complete the gift, add a cookbook on Mediterranean or Moroccan cooking. Or add a tag to suggest using these lemons to flavor sauces, braised dishes, vegetable stews, roast chicken, fish, rice or even tuna salad.