Preserved Lemons and Limes

For me, citrus preserves are just that – an acid-preserved pickle rather than a lactic acid ferment. That said, the flavor of long Preserved Lemons or Preserved Limes, in a brine made of salt and their own juice, provides an outstandingly bright addition to many dishes, from cooked dishes to more relaxing fare like tuna or chicken salad. The peels soften as they steep in their own juice and slice up beautifully to add some punch to nearly anything. I’ve also used the remaining brine to make some extremely dirty martini or G&T variants, so experiment as you will.

Preserved Lemons and Preserved Limes are also easy to make, but buy plenty more lemons or limes than you think you’ll need. If you’re lucky enough to live in a place where citrus trees abound, this would be a perfect project for foraged or gleaned fruit.

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Gather your citrus fruit, salt in the amount of one or two tablespoons (I don’t really measure for this application). A citrus juicer of some sort will help with this recipe as well.

To salt your citrus, cut them most of the way through into quarters. The goal is to leave them attached at the far end. It’s not a big deal if you cut too far, this is a preservation method after all. Once they’ve got a nice “X” through them, salt the interior liberally.

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Press the lemon into the jar and repeat, sprinkling additional salt as you go. I don’t find that this recipe requires a dramatic amount of salt, but the juice-brine should be salty.

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As you load up the jar with lemons or limes, compress as many as will reasonably fit. The fruit will float a bit, so try to ensure adequate head space.

Once you’ve filled the jar and squeezed the lemons or limes in to compress them a bit, it’s time to start juicing. I use a simple squeeze-style hand juicer for citrus – and two or three times the number of lemons that fit in the jar.

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It looks wasteful, but how many times have you bought a bag of lemons or limes and watched most of them go to waste? Preserved Lemons or Preserved Limes are a great way to put most that bag to use right off the bat, with a few left over to make a perfect cocktail or splash over seafood.

Set it aside for a month or a year. As long as the fruit remains submerged, you’ll end up with a lusciously tart pickle that highlights all kinds of flavors.

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Stacie is a freelance writer living in Atlanta. She’s been fermenting for most of a decade, and is an enthusiastic maker of beer, wine, kraut, tempeh, and natto, as well as an avid keeper of bees. And dogs and cats.