Sour, salty sunshine in a jar

I understand your hesitation.

I thought about making preserved lemons for years before I actually did it. You have to pack them into jars, then let them sit and ferment for weeks before you can cook with them. Who plans like that?

I do, now. Once I made them, using Eugenia Bone’s recipe from the book Well Preserved, I found that I can’t live without them, especially after I discovered this kale Caesar salad. Sadly, I do think you have to make your own. I bought a couple of different brands from my favorite Middle Eastern market, and the purchased ones tasted like a cleaning product.

Use Meyer lemons, which are in season right now-- they’re a little sweeter and have a delicious floral quality. And really, all you need are lemons and salt and some clean jars. You quarter the lemons and stuff them in a jar with several tablespoons of salt, then pour in enough fresh-squeezed lemon juice to fill up the jars. There’s no need to process them. Just let them sit on your counter for three or four weeks until the sour, salty, faintly funky magic happens. You eat the whole lemon-- the peel is especially delicious. Eugenia Bone suggests a couple of great ways to use them in this book, but I mostly use them in that kale salad and in tuna salad.

You can find a recipe for the lemons here, but do take a look at the book. Bone has ideas for lots of very special things to preserve in small batches, perfect for a novice or an experienced canner. The way things are going, it feels like the end times are nigh. Perhaps we'll enjoy them more with some nice things to have on our toast, with fancy cocktail cherries, or with bright, salty lemons.

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