The simple act of preserving food is nothing new. When stocks of fresh fruit and vegetables were depleted in the winter months you could simply bring out a jar of jam, pickles or chutney and enjoy a little taste of summer. Preserving allowed the vitamins of summer to seep into winter. It kept you healthy, boosted flavors and used the glut of summer in a productive manner.
Summer is the perfect time to harvest. Fruit is plentiful and often available free. Why buy it in the winter at twice the price when you can buy it now and preserve it? It is easy to make chia jams and freeze berries ready for winter smoothies. I love to pickle cucumbers and radishes and my latest love is preserved lemons
Preserving lemons in salt is an act of beauty. The sea salt breaks down the intense acidity of the fruit leaving you with a soft, delicate, lemony treat. By storing them this way, you can keep them for ages and in fact they take three months until they are ready to use. They are perfect in quinoa and mint salad, sliced finely atop of winter chickpea stews or tossed with a herby, warm, barley salad. Their rich taste goes a long way and imparts a hint of summer.
I used grey sea salt here as it was local to us, but any large flake sea salt will work fine. Make sure to use un-waxed lemons and give them a good wash before using. These lemons will take three months to be ready. During this time, they are best stored in a cool, dark place and make sure to turn and gently shake them every few days. To store the lemons you need a sterilised kilner jar. To sterilise it, you wash the jar and then place it into a
8 large lemons
200g flaked sea salt
Preheat your oven to 140C. Wash the jars well in hot soapy water then rinse well. Leave the jars and lids to dry, upside down, in the oven for around 10 minutes
Scrub the lemons clean, then cut each lemon in quarters lengthways but without going all the way through
Pack the centre of the lemon with salt and place into the sterilised jars. Repeat with the other lemons firmly pressing them into the jars and packing with salt to build up layers
Press the lemons down well and finish with a final layer of salt
Leave the jar in a cool dark place for at least three months before using. Turn the jars every day
Once opened, keep in the fridge and re-cover with lemon juice after each use
When you use them the only part of the lemon you need is the rind – scrape away the pith and flesh, rinse well and chop the rind finely