Preserved Meyer Lemons

In my freshman year of college I lived with my older brother in a run down house in a seedy part of town (I got car jacked in that same neighborhood).  I would wake up M-F and head to my morning classes at Mesa Community College, then drive directly to work as the pizza delivery girl.  Pretty sure what I saved in food money, I gained in pounds as I brought home a sub or pizza for dinner most days (it was free).  

I would always get home before my brother, which gave me full scope of vegging out a bit on the tv.  In the middle I would get a hankering for something sweet.  However, I often didn't have anything in the house; nor, did I have extra spending money to go out and buy something. 

My concoction: go out back and pick either oranges from the tree grove.  But, sometimes I wanted a tang.  This meant picking lemons and dipping them in sugar.  Now, before I have half of you balking and gagging at the idea...it's essentially lemonade folks. 

But, making lemonade in the winter doesn't seem quite right. Therefore, I traded out sugar for salt, adding extra virgin olive oil, some bay leaf and peppercorns to preserve lemons. Meyer lemons to be exact. 

Now, I know we're running low on time as citrus season is dying out and you're most likely not going to find Meyer lemons (not so tangy, hybrid fruit lemon marries mandarin orange).  It's okay to use regular lemons.  So let's get on it and make them.  It doesn't take long to make, it's the sitting around in a dark space, which requires time.  

 

***Addition: I realized I didn't tell you what you could do with these lemons.  When they're ready to use, discard the pulp and fruit and only use the peel.  You could make this tuna fish salad (Ben would disagree, but don't let that hinder you) and add some in place of the lemon zest. 

  • Use in hummus
  • Caesar Salad
  • Stews or curries
  • roasted broccoli
Ingredient list: check  Supply list: check

Ingredient list: check  Supply list: check

Slice through each well washed lemon, stem side, leaving about 1/2 inch to keep it in tact. Be generous with that kosher salt as you pour it in the lemon.

Slice through each well washed lemon, stem side, leaving about 1/2 inch to keep it in tact. Be generous with that kosher salt as you pour it in the lemon.

Fill the bottom of your jar about 1/2 inch of salt.  Pack in the generously salted lemons, try and close them up to keep the salt inside.  Then cram them in to keep them close together.

Fill the bottom of your jar about 1/2 inch of salt.  Pack in the generously salted lemons, try and close them up to keep the salt inside.  Then cram them in to keep them close together.

Add additional salt, peppercorns, bay leaf, and then your extra virgin olive oil.

Add additional salt, peppercorns, bay leaf, and then your extra virgin olive oil.

Until it looks like this.  The olive oil should cover the tops. Seal it and store it away in a cool, dark cupboard.  Shake every day or so. Store for one month before using. 

Until it looks like this.  The olive oil should cover the tops. Seal it and store it away in a cool, dark cupboard.  Shake every day or so. Store for one month before using. 

Preserved Meyer Lemons (printable recipe)

I've adapted this recipe from Thomas Keller's cookbook Ad Hoc, where he calls for regular lemons and slightly less EVOO. When your lemons are ready to use, you will want to discard the fruit and only use the peels.  

What You'll Need:

1 1/2 cups kosher salt

6-7 lemons, scrubbed

1 teaspoon peppercorns

2-3 bay leaves

2 lemons, for their juice

1/2-2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

Pint canning jar, or in my case more like 2 pints

Directions:

Pour 1/2 inch of salt into canning jar. 

Cut each lemon from the stem side, lengthwise into quarters keeping the lemon in tact. Spread lemons open.  Generously pour salt inside and close them up. Put into the jar, pressing it down slightly.  Repeat with another lemon, add 1/3 tsp of peppercorns and one bay leaf, and 1/3 of salt. Repeat with two more lemons, add 1/3 tsp peppercorns and bay leaf and 1/3 of salt.  Repeat last time with lemons, peppercorns, bay leaf and salt.  Make sure they are nice and snug in there.  

There will probably be some lemon juice released from the lemons, add additional juice to make sure the lemons are completely covered.  Pour over extra virgin olive oil.  

Seal jar well and put in a cool, dark cupboard to stand for at least one month, or up to 6 months. Refrigerate the jar after opening and use lemons within a month.