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Cooking at the Kasbah: Recipes from My Moroccan Kitchen
By Kitty Morse

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A North African Way With Lemons

This recipe is from one of my favorite cookbooks, Cooking at the Kasbah, by Kitty Morse, a Morocco-born resident of the San Diego area. Preserved lemons add a distinctive flavor to a wide variety of North Africa dishes, she writes. The softened rind is usually chopped fine and added at the end of the cooking process while the pulp is blended with the sauce. Moroccans favor thin-skinned Meyer lemons, Morse writes, though she says standard lemons also "lend themselves well" to this treatment. There’s usually no need to salt dishes in which these lemons are used.

Preserved Lemons

12 or more unblemished lemons, preferably Meyers, scrubbed
Sea salt
Fresh lemon juice as needed

1. Pat the lemons dry.

2. Cut a thin dime-sized piece from both ends of each lemon.

3. Set a lemon on one end and make a vertical cut three quarters of the way through the fruit, so that the two halves remain attached at the base. Do not cut in it half.

4. Turn the lemon upside down and make a second vertical cut at a 90-degree angle to the first, again three quarters of the way through fruit.

5. Fill each cut with as much salt as it will hold.

6. Place the lemon carefully at the bottom of a sterilized wide-mouthed quart glass jar. Proceed in the this manner with the remaining lemons, compressing them in the far until no space is left and the lemon juice rises to the top. Seal and seat place on the kitchen counter.

7. More lemons may be added in the following days as the lemon rinds begin to soften.

8. Make sure the lemons are covered with juice at all times adding fresh lemon juice if necessary.

9. The lemons are ready to use when the rinds are tender, in 4 to 6 weeks. Rinse them lightly and discard the seeds before using.

10. Refrigerate after opening. Preserved lemons will keep for up to 6 months in the refrigerator.


Copyright 2005 Seasonal Chef