This is getting out of hand. I’m frankly becoming a little obsessed with an old copy of a Yotam Ottolenghi cookbook. I really should be out on the BBQ slow cooking some ribs and deciding if hickory or cherry wood makes it taste better. No, not me. I’m indoors gently roasting an aubergine and wondering if it’s burnt enough for the tahini yet.
The only thing is that a lot of the recipes call for preserved lemons. Now if you’ve ever tried to find a jar of this lemony goodness you’ll know you’ll need small mortgage just to purchase them. Luckily, I received an empty Kilner jar in the post for the Jam J-Art challenge and have been stuck with something to fill it with. Using a few lemons and some store cupboard essentials I found they’re fairly easy to do on your own. The only thing you’ll need to do it wait. It takes a while, but it’s well worth it.
Ingredients (makes 6)
6 unwaxed lemons
6 tbsp coarse sea salt
2 rosemary sprigs
1 large red chilli
juice of 6 lemons
Sterilize a large jar by filling it with boiling water and leaving for a few minutes. Drain and leave it to air dry, don’t be tempted to use a tea towel to dry it. Wash the lemons and cut a deep cross about halfway down each lemon. Stuff sea salt into each lemon cross and place the lemons in the jar. Make sure they’re tightly packed together. Seal the jar and then leave for one week.
Open the lid and with a wooden spoon squash the lemons down as hard as you can to squeeze out all the lemon juice. Add the rosemary, chilli and squeeze in the juice of six lemons. Then cover with a thin layer of olive oil. Make sure the lemons are covered and if needed just add more lemon juice, but not more olive oil. Seal the jar and leave for at least 4 weeks.
I had to make these a couple of times to get them just right. You either need to go with smaller lemons at the start or more lemon juice to cover them in week 2. They almost need to be swimming in lemon juice so they don’t go mouldy, which mine did. Stick with it though as they’re great for giving any recipe a little extra flavour punch.