Using Preserved Lemons & Limes

As previously discussed, preserved lemons and limes are some of my favorite things. I usually have a bunch of jars of them going at once, and as my brother-in-law’s birthday approaches – he’s an avid grill guy – I wanted to put some to use in one of my favorite applications. This requires some special equipment, but bear with me and I shall deliver unto you the secret of the most flavorful spice powder you’ll ever taste.

We’re going to dry and grind these things

img_1368Yeah, I said it. We’re going to drain these bad boys, chop them up, run them through a dehydrator, and then pulse them through a spice mill.

Okay, true story – making this killed my previous, much beloved spice mill, but because we live in an age of miracles, Amazon Prime Now had another one (aff) to me a few hours later and I didn’t even have to leave my house.

Miracles, I tell you.

Anyway, this works about like you’d expect. Except that I didn’t reserve the brine, which I suspect would have made a pretty amazing chicken or pork marinade. So, sigh. Don’t make my mistake.

But here’s what I did do: Emptied jars into a colander. Put limes and lemons on a cutting board. Chopped them up in no particular way. Removed seeds that I saw (could have done a better job with that – more on that later). Set on the screens for my El Cheapo brand dehydrator (not the actual brand name).

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 And then we dry!

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Preserved lemons and limes on the dehydrator screen. Magic: Going to Happen!

This part isn’t really that important, photographically. The wheels on the bus go round and round, what can you do?

The next day, here’s what you’re dealing with:

img_1394 Oh yeah, that’s the stuff. Don’t put it in your mouth though. You’ll break your teeth. No joke. That’s why the spice mill didn’t make it.

After Amazon delivered my new spice mill, I got smart and did the first round of breaking this stuff up in the old Oster blender I bought a decade ago at a yard sale for $5. You want to talk about value? At this point I’m pretty sure that thing will outlive me, and it made pretty quick work of five of these screens full of rock hard dehydrated preserved limes and lemons.

From there, well, here’s the last action shot of my dearly departed spice mill:

img_1397It looks like it really wants to do this, doesn’t it? It had already handled a couple of rounds of this stuff. LIKE A CHAMP. Until it wasn’t a champ anymore. Poor thing. You’ll be missed, but yeah, you were instantly replaced.

So, at the end of these processes, what do you get? You get a powerful, pungent, citrus explosion that pairs surprisingly well with, well, I’ll let you know when I find something it doesn’t pair well with.

I’ve made this before, and added it to *everything*. Popcorn, rice, meats (of course), soups, salads, sauces. I’d say it lasts forever, but it doesn’t, in truth. It goes really quickly. Of the three and a half or so quarts of preserved lemons and limes I used, I got two 8 oz containers of this magical stuff, which I’m calling Bitter Lime Bonanza. The bitterness, which is really only in the aftertaste and gets masked by the dish it’s made with, it probably from the seeds that made it through the process. I tried to remove as many as I could, but this is art, not science.

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To balance the flavors a bit, I mixed in small amounts of celery salt, sumac, a really small bit of cumin, and a couple of teaspoons of brown sugar. It’s so good!

I love this stuff so much, and I’m so happy it’s back in my life. At the start of the year I made a pact with myself to get preserved lemons and limes going at least monthly so I’d always have some on hand, but that promise only lasted a few months, sadly.

For now, I have my jar of magic spice, and I couldn’t be happier. Pretty sure my brother-in-law and his family are going to feel the exact same way.

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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.