Preserved lemons

The distinctive flavour of preserved lemons is essential for a North African tagine (stew). Salting the lemons softens them and drains away any bitterness, while storing them in oil gives them a delightfully mellow flavour.

  • 15 small unwaxed lemons, washed and sliced
  • 3 tbsp sea salt
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 4 bay leaves 720ml/24fl oz/3 cups walnut or hazelnut oil

1. Layer the lemon slices in a colander, sprinkling each layer with salt. Leave for 24 hours, then pat dry with kitchen paper.

2. Sterilize a 1kg/2lb 4oz well-washed preserving jar by boiling the rubber seal in hot water for 10 minutes, and putting the jar itself into a hot oven for 10 minutes.

3. Lay the lemon slices in the clean jar, sprinkling each layer with a little paprika and inserting a bay leaf every few layers.

4. Cover generously with oil, cover with a disc of waxed paper, then seal and store in a cool dark place. The lemons can be eaten straight away, but will last for 2 years unopened. Once opened, they will keep for 6 months in a refrigerator.

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