Preserved lemons are used in many Moroccan and Middle Eastern dishes, as well as elsewhere. They add a lemony tartness and imbue dishes with lemon fragrance.
4 lemons plus at least 2 more for juice (lemons must be unwaxed!)
6-7 tablespoons Kosher large flake salt
1 bay leaf (optional)
12 black peppercorns (optional)
Uee a jar just large enough for the lemons, and sterilize it and the lid with boiling water. Allow to air dry.
Wash the lemons well with warm water.
If you are going to use the bay and peppercorns, give them a quick dip in boiling water, 30 seconds or less. Set them on a paper towel to dry.
Sprinkle the bottom of the jar with a tablespoon of salt.
Cut the stem end of the lemons flat. Then, cut from the tip down almost through, stopping about a half inch from the bottom. Rotate the lemon and repeat so you have four equal quarters. Pack the lemon with a tablespoon of salt, then put into the jar, pushing it down. Repeat with the remaining three lemons, sprinkling salt between the layers of lemons, and squashing them down firmly so they give off some juice. If using the bay and pepper, slip the bay leaf between the layers and sprinkle in the peppercorns. Sprinkle a tablespoon of salt over the tops of the lemons, and then squeeze in lemon juice to fill up the container.
Twist the lid firmly on the jar and place the lemons in a cool dark place. After a day, use a clean stainless steel spoon to push the lemons down again. Be sure they are submerged. Repeat two more days, adding lemon juice if needed to cover the lemons. Move to the refrigerator after three days and store for 3-4 weeks before using.
Keep in the refrigerator. The lemons may develop a white film on the surface and the liquid will become viscous. This is as it should be. When ready to use a lemon, remove the lemon from the jar using something non-reactive and clean and rinse off the lemon you are using.
Preserved lemons keep several months in the refrigerator.