Preserved Lemons

After success making apple cider vinegar from apple scraps and hearing on The Splendid Table how you just “must have preserved lemons!” I chopped some up and threw them in a jar on Nov 11. I left them in my kitchen since it’s on the cool side unless I’m baking and so I’d remember to shake daily. But now it’s bubbling away even more so than the vinegar did. I’ve been opening the lid daily the last 2 days since there’s a good amount of pressure built up.

Anyone know what happened, if I have to toss, or can still use?

Edit - I did salt and cover with lemon juice per toriavey.com

If there’s fizzing and bubbling, you’ve got fermentation going on rather than true preservation. I would dump them. Did you wash them thoroughly before salting?

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Darn and thank you. I did wash them but will be more careful next time.

BTW, when I make preserved lemons, I don’t shake the jar - doing so could allow the fruit to get uncovered and exposed to air, which is not at all what you want. I just pack them in as tightly as possible with salt, cover with lemon juice and then let them sit.

That makes sense. How long do you keep them out before they go in the fridge? Thanks for your help!

It depends on the texture you prefer. Usually I do a big jar, then separate into two smaller jars after a couple of months. One goes in the fridge at that stage, the other stays out for up to six months for a different texture, then into the fridge.

How long can they stay in the fridge?

Thanks! I bought a few at the store for my second attempt. Going to do a smaller jar this time. I haven’t used them so I’ll have to split them up and experiment.

Forever, as far as I know. The jar I have in there is at least two years old, and I just used some the other day - they still taste great!

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Thank You

I’ve never done them chopped. Quartered and still connected as a rule. Then I can cut out the fruit and pith before using the rind

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“Chopped?” I hope you’re not being literal! All of the info so far is “on the money,” with the exception of no clarification of whether you mean you treated the lemons in the traditional way of “almost” cutting them into quarters from end to end or if you literally mean “chopped.” There should be NO bubbling or fermentation! Nearly every time I have preserved lemons I have had to add a pretty generous amount of extra lemon juice at the beginning to make sure the lemons are completely immersed. And do not skimp on the salt! And do not use iodized salt!

For “traditional Moroccan” (North African really) preserved lemons, we cannot get the type of lemon they use, or at least I can’t in Dallas, but Meyer lemons are pretty close. Thick skinned lemons that have a thick layer of pith (the white stuff) under the zest are not the ideal. BUT! Even if you used a really thick skinned lemon, the preserving process should not produce bubbles or fementation. And no shaking of the jar at any time!

Also, just for the record, I try very hard to find organic Meyer lemons because who needs to preserve pesticides? Store bought preserved lemons are very pricey when comopared to the cost of preserving your own, so give it another shot, and good luck!

And now I have a question for other “old hands” at preserving their own lemons. Have any of you EVER tried preserving other citrus? I’ve been looking for organic Valencia oranges for several years now to give them a try, but alas, Valencias are sooooo seasonal in my area that they’re gone in a flash, let alone “organic”! Or if I could ever find a tangerine/clementine with peels that aren’t too lose, I might try those. Anyone tried it? And I DO plan on trying limes some time soon.

Caroline, I have several jars of preserved Persian limes. Do them the same way as the lemons.

Thanks! I did try Meyer lemons (if they were actually Meyers) the first go around but using regular ones this time. Course Kosher salt used both times but I did add more for my second attempt. I’m guessing it was the jar shaking that did me in. Oops!

Actually, from what I understand, Meyer lemons are not ideal for the preservation process because they are much lower in acid than regular lemons.

As I replied in Another Food Site, freeze the lemons briefly before juicing and salting them. It speeds the preservation process. I did this for a lot of lemons that had been cut up for a party and not used. Win-win. I’ve had a lot of problems with spoilage if I don’t freeze the lemons first.

Thanks! I didn’t think I could possibly be the only one who ever thought of it! '-) Good to know and I’m shoppong for limes!!!

I’ve not had a problem with spoilage except for the time I let the juice level fall below the preserved lemons and a white mold set it. I was afraid to trust it so threw them out. BUT…!!! Before cutting my lemons to pack them with salt, I DO nuke them for added juiciness. And then I slice and prep the lemons on a deep plastic plate to catch the juices, and the plastic plate protects my extremely sharp chef’s knife.

And just for general information, when I use the preserved lemons the traditional way in a tagine, I do not discard the pith and fruit as is traditional. I just add it to a small jar that has some of the extremely salty lemon brine and then use it as flavoring in anything where I would use lemon juice, then reduce or completely omit the salt in whatever I’m using it for. hmmm… Does that make me cheap or creative? Your call…!!! '-)

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Back when I was working, I frequently created moldy jars of lemons I had set up to preserve, and nothing I seemed to do would fix it. And later there was a party with many cut up pieces of lemon with no place to go.

I think nuking helped sterilize your lemons, and I think I’ll try it on mine.

Certainly no kitchens should without them, even if they only show up in potato salad.

Never had the mold issue at least with preserving lemons and I’m in a warm humid climate. I use a lot of salt and really don’t measure any more. The end product is not overly salty when the flesh and pith are sliced out and can be rinsed without losing flavor

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