Monday, February 11, 2008

3 Recipes: Preserved Lemons & Candied Lemon Peel & Sparkling Lemonade and Mint (Λεμόνια στην Άρμη & Γλυκά Φλούδα του Λεμονιού & Λεμονάδα με Δυόσμος)

I used to make Moroccan food all the time. Its spice-rich flavors please my palate.

Why I quit cooking Moroccan, I have no idea. It wasn’t a conscious decision to stop, but it's been years since I made more than a couple Moroccan dishes a year. In the past week, I’ve read about Elly’s
Moroccan Chicken with Lentils and Mike’s Moroccan Lemon and Olive Chicken.

Now I’m craving Moroccan.

When we regularly ate the foods of Morocco, I always kept a jar of preserved lemons in the refrigerator. Yesterday I started a batch as a first step in restocking my Moroccan pantry.

I preserve lemons in lemon juice and salt. When I juice the lemons, I’m left with too many lemon peels to throw away. Instead, I peel the lemons before I juice them and make Candied Lemon Peel.

Of course, after making Candied Lemon Peel, I’m left with too much lemon syrup to throw away. The lemon syrup is a perfect building block for making Sparkling Lemonade with Mint, a light and refreshing thirst-quencher.

Preserved LemonsPreserved Lemons
(Λεμόνια στην Άρμη)
For extra flavor, add Preserved Lemons to salads, vegetables, sauces, poultry, or fish.

8 lemons
1 cup salt
1 1/2 cups lemon juice (4 – 6 lemons)
Olive oil

Sterilize a large jar (2 quart) and lid.

Cut off the top and bottom of each lemon, without cutting into the flesh. Reserve the ends for another use, such as Candied Lemon Peel (see below). Cut the lemons into quarters, but do not cut all the way through – leave the lemons connected at one end. Thickly layer salt into the cuts, and pack lemons into the sterilized jar. Pour in enough lemon juice to cover the lemons.

Cover and let sit at room temperature for 7 days. Turn the jar several times a day to evenly distribute the brine. After 7 days, top off the jar with olive oil (to prevent spoilage) and refrigerate. The preserved lemons are now ready to use.

To use preserved lemons, remove the lemon flesh and discard. Rinse the peel and chop into appropriate sized pieces for the recipe you’re making.

Candied Lemon Peel
Candied Lemon Peel (Γλυκά Φλούδα του Λεμονιού)
Candied lemon peel is tasty on its own as a sweet treat, and adds flavor when added to cookies, cakes, or ice cream.

2 cups lemon peel (peel from 4 - 6 lemons)
3 cups sugar, divided
2 cups water

Peel the lemons in large pieces. With a sharp knife, remove as much white pith from the lemon peels as is possible; the edge of a teaspoon works well to remove pith from a lemon’s top or bottom end. Place the peels in a pot, cover with cold water, bring to a boil, cook for one minute, and drain. Return peels to the pot, cover with cold water, bring to a boil, cook for one minute, and drain. Cut the blanched peel into thin strips.

Microwave method: Mix 2 cups sugar and water in a microwave-safe bowl. Cook for 10 minutes on high. Stir. Cook for 10 minutes on high. Stir. Cook for 4 more minutes on high. Stir the lemon peel into the syrup. Microwave on high for 8 minutes.

Stovetop method: Mix 2 cups sugar and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Cook, without stirring, over medium heat until you have light syrup, about 45 minutes. Stir in the strips of lemon peel and cook for 10 minutes.

Let the lemon peels sit in the syrup until the syrup is cool and the lemon peels slightly translucent (I let the peels sit in the syrup overnight). Drain the lemon peel and reserve the syrup for another use.

Put the remaining 1 cup sugar in a plastic bag. Add a handful of lemon strips to the sugar and shake until the pieces of peel are completely coated with sugar. Spread out the candied peel on two baking sheets and let sit until dry. Repeat until all the lemon strips are coated with sugar.

Put in an airtight jar and store in the refrigerator.

Sparkling Lemonade with MintSparkling Lemonade with Mint (Λεμονάδα με Δυόσμος)
Makes 1 drink

1 sprig mint
3 Tbsp. lemon syrup (see Note)
1 cup seltzer water or club soda

Pull the mint leaves off the stem and crush them in your fingers. Put them in a glass, along with the lemon syrup and seltzer water. Stir to combine. Add ice cubes and serve.

NOTE: Use leftover syrup from the Candied Lemon Peel recipe (above), or make a simple sugar and water syrup with 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water, using the method in the Candied Lemon Peel recipe. When the sugar and water form a light syrup, let it cool, and add 1 1/2 cups fresh lemon juice.
This is my entry for
Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted this week by Erin from The Skinny Gourmet.


Peter G said...

Laurie you do a wonderful things with all produce. Its fantastic to see you let nothing go to waste. A great example.

Peter M said...

Laurie, I too have been craving Moroccan and your preserved lemon entry is very timely.

I've seen many internet recipes but at least I now have a trusted one to try.

MARIA V said...


Cakelaw said...

Hi Laurie, I am a fan of Morroccan cooking, but have always left out the preserved lemons or subbed in fresh lemons (they are hideously expensive at gourmet shops). Thanks for the tips on how to make my own.

Mike of Mike's Table said...


Thanks for the link and both the preserved lemons and the candied peels look great! I'm eager to see what else you have planned for the lemons since the day when I can dip into my jar is coming soon. I don't think I've ever had to be quite so patient for a "dish" before and its killing me! ;-)

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

I always have preserved lemons in my refrigerator. When I make them, I replace the metal caps with plastic ones (available in the market alongside the canning jars). On the cap, I write the date I made the lemons. Also, the plastic jars don't react with the acid in the salt water. I find that my lemons keep longer and don't go "off".

Cheryl said...

This is very, very useful, thank you!

Riana Lagarde said...

we are on the same wavelength my friend! i do the same thing with tangerines too. just made some chocolate dipped peels (and some lemon as well for me since my husband wont eat lemons) and the salted tangerines and lemons are so good in tagines and other savory dishes.

i used the syrup for making orange ginger muffins and drizzled over fruit cake.

Anonymous said...

mmmm lovely!
I'm making preserved lemons, too, but I'm using Claudia Roden's recipe which takes about a month... i will try your quicker version, too!

Elly said...

Wow Laurie, looks great! I have never preserved anything to be honest, but this looks like a good place to start. I love lemon anything (of course)!

Ivy said...

Laurie, check this out, you have been awarded

I will come back tomorrow morning to read your recipe. Good night.

ThreeTastes said...

We have a chicken with preserved lemons and olives in the tabletop oven as I type!! Alas, the last of the batch and the last until we get settled again. . . I never thought of making a candied peel with them, it's a wonderful idea.

The salmon was a hit, too -- thanks for your feedback on that. And if we happen to find ourselves on the West Coast after our next move, we're planning a visit to your church's festival at some point -- the festival recipes in your cookbook sound onolicious!

Laurie Constantino said...

Peter G - I can't stand to throw away good flavor - better to put it to use!

Peter M - they are really easy to make, and this is a recipe I've been using for years.

Maria, thanks!

Gaye, it certainly works to use fresh lemon, but the preserved lemons really add an interesting and more complex flavor - I hope you give them a try.

Mike, thanks for the inspiration! And yes, not getting instant gratification is really a problem for me too.

Lydia, your ideas of getting plastic caps and dating the lemons are very good ones. I always put plastic wrap between the jar's lid and the lemons, and agree that separating the lemons and the cap with something non-reactive is important to preserve the lemons' flavor. Thanks for the tips!

Cheryl, glad you liked it!

Riana, mmm, I've never tried preserving tangerines, but what a good idea (especially if you are lucky enough to have a tangerine tree). Those muffins sound wonderful! I was planning on using the syrup in lemon pound cake, but who knows if better inspiration will strike.

Maninas, you have more patience that I do! But I've always had very good luck with Roden's recipes, so I'm sure yours will be wonderful.

Elly, this is a good place to start because, for the preserved lemons, nothing needs to be cooked. I know from reading your blog that you would love them.

Oh, Ivy, thank you so much for the kind words on your blog; I'm very appreciative! (And, as you know, enjoy your blog very much.)

Manju, now that is quite a coincidence - wish i was eating at your house tonight! I'm glad the salmon turned out and that you didn't stint on the garlic! Onolicious!! The best compliment ever, thanks. That would be so great if you came to Alaska for our Greek festival - it is really a good time (usually held the first Fri Sat Sun after August 15). Hope to see you then!

Bijoux said...

Hi Laurie!
I never would have guessed that you are a fan of Moroccan food. It is one of my favourites!! I have never tasted the preserved lemons before but I have had other Moroccan delicacies.
Sometimes I will even prepare a dish and enhance it with typical Moroccan spices and add currants or other dried fruit. So very delicious! Moroccan food cooked in a tagine is superbly succulent and aromatic. Maybe for Valentine's day I'll make a request that we go to our local Moroccan restaurant. I can just taste the lemonade with rose water essence...and the phyllo cigars :D

JennDZ - The Leftover Queen said...

Awesome lemon photos Laurie! I am always craving Moroccan! It is one of my favorite cuisines - I feel like I say that a lot...

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful post. I'd never thought about candied lemon peel in mircowave. Thank you for that great idea.

lavaterra said...

What a wonderful post. I'd never thought about candied lemon peel in mircowave. Thank you for that great idea.

Pam said...

What a great idea to make candied lemon peels from the peel of juiced lemons. How do you use your candied lemon peels?

Laurie Constantino said...

Hey Bijoux! How could anyone not like Moroccan food? Everything about it is delicious; succulent and aromatic pretty much sums it up. The idea of having a local Moroccan restaurant is very appealing - you are very lucky. MMMmmmm - phyllo cigars - wish I had some now.

Jenn, I know what you mean - I think my favorite might be whatever I'm thinking about or reading about or looking at, and it can change from minute to minute. I think it means we enjoy our food!

Lavaterra, I discovered the microwave technique when I was exhausted and wanted to go to bed and was so ready to be finished for the day that I was taking advantage of every shortcut. It does speed up making the syrup.

Pam, the candied lemon peels are good eaten as is, or they can be chopped up and put in cookies, cakes, or ice cream. They're very versatile and I like having them on hand.

Sam Sotiropoulos said...

Ah... preserved lemons! I love preserved lemons!!! Thanks for refreshing my memory Laurie!
Be Well,


Wandering Chopsticks said...

I don't add olive oil to my preserved lemons and haven't had any spoilage. If you're really adventurous, you can add sugar and make chanh muoi (Vietnamese salty lemonade). It's an acquired taste but that's pretty much the only thing I do with preserved lemons. :)

Laurie Constantino said...

You're so welcome, Sam. Thanks for stopping by!

Wandering Chopsticks, the reason I add oil is to deal with the lemons that float to the top of the jar and are partially exposed. Before I starting adding the oil, I had trouble with the exposed ones. Vietnamese salty lemonade sounds very interesting - I'll definitely explore it -- it would complete the cycle of using all components of the lemon and turn my 3 recipes into 4. Thank you for the excellent advice!

Kalyn said...

I've been meaning to make preserved lemons for the longest time. No idea why I've been so lazy about it. Great post!

zorra said...

If I look out of the window I can see Marocco. And I have a lot of lemons... Thank you for reminding me this great recipe.

Anna said...

i'm so thirsty right now and that lemonade looks perfect . . . .

bee said...

your recipe for preserved lemons is so straightforward. i'll be making them soon.