Preserving Lemons to Preserve Dreams
I used to dream of becoming an interpreter in a foreign country or teaching English somewhere abroad. Languages had always come easily to me, and by high school I was fluent in two with some knowledge of another four.
I thought that I'd learn a few more languages, major in creative writing and international studies and then head off to escape the frozen tundra I had grown up in. In my head there were visions of paved streets, crumbling ruins, and streets lined with buildings that had been around for centuries that were renovated and still being lived in today. I would spend my days working and my nights and weekends appreciating the culture, the food and writing.
My plans were cut short, and instead, I found myself still in the frozen north, studying at the college just down the way from my childhood home, working full-time hours shoved in between full-time coursework and juggling a small, blonde baby girl on my hip.
In the next 7 years, I'd meet and marry my husband, who was in graduate school at the time, and we would settle down just minutes from where I was born, buying a house, adding three more kids to our small family and working to finish school, make ends meet and start our lives together.
While world travel has been put on hold until the children are older and the freedom greater, I instead imagine those places I dreamed of in my youth by attempting to bring a bit of them home.
Many Moroccan and Middle Eastern recipes call for preserved lemons. They are easy to make at home, and they add a brilliant zing to the dish.
- 7-9 lemons (Meyer if available), soaked in water for 2 days
- ¼ cup kosher salt
- Extra lemons for juicing
Add 2 tablespoons of salt in a quart-sized canning jar that has been sterilized. Cut the stems and tips off the lemons and then cut into quartered sections, stopping about ½" from the bottom of the lemon, so that the lemon is sectioned but still in one piece. Sprinkle salt on the flesh of the lemon.
Smash the lemons into the jar, squishing to extract juice as you go. Continue packing so the juice is extracted and fills the jar. If the juice does not make it to cover the lemons, add extra juice on top. Top with a few tablespoons of salt. Cover the jar and let it sit in the refrigerator for 3 weeks, agitating and turning it occasionally. Allow to sit for three weeks before using any lemons.
To use, rinse lemon thoroughly and add to dishes that call for preserved lemons. Store in the refrigerator and use within 5-6 months.
Makes 1 quart preserved lemons.
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