I always seem to have a few too many lemons sitting in the fruit bowl.
I like to have lemons around as I use them a lot – a splash of juice brightens up a sauce or gravy, a little zest lifts even the most simple of cakes and, of course, a gin and tonic just isn’t the same without a slice or two of yellow sharpness – but I hate to see them drying out and going to waste because I bought too many.
The most obvious thing would be to buy less lemons but it’s not quite that straight forward – because I like to use the zest I only buy unwaxed lemons and I find that they are often only sold in nets of five or more fruits rather than individually – why is that? When they are available individually they are twice the price of waxed lemons.
I do all the usual things like freezing slices for a G&T or freezing the juice in an ice cube tray for a little zap when needed but I still sometimes get a little overloaded. This week I asked the bun scuffle Facebook community for ideas and, as always, they came up trumps.
Thanks to Ali Robinson for suggesting that I preserve them – I love preserved lemons but have never actually made them before, so I stole this recipe from the BBC Good Food site and gave it a go. The recipe (below) couldn’t be simpler but I’ll have to let you know how they turned out in a month or so. When they are ready I’ll post some recipes for using them – mmm I can feel something Moroccan brewing…
10 or 12 Unwaxed Lemons (depending on the size of the jar)
250g / 9 oz Sea Salt
6 to 8 Black Peppercorns
3 Star Anise
3 Bay Leaves
You will also need a sterilised preserving jar big enough to hold half the lemons. To sterilise wash thoroughly in hot, soapy water, rinse well and place in a low oven (140°C/Gas Mark ) for around 15 minutes.
Cut a deep cross into five or six of the lemons so that they are nearly quartered but still held together at one end. Pack a teaspoon of salt into each lemon and re-shape.
Push them into the jar as tightly as you can. Spoon the rest of the salt in and around the lemons along with the bay leaves, peppercorns and star anise.
Juice the rest of the lemons and strain the juice into the jar – top up with water to completely cover the lemons. Seal tightly with a lid.
Turn the jar every day to mix up the salt and spices. The lemons will be ready to use in a month to six weeks.
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