I owe a debt of gratitude to Moroccan cooking expert Kitty Morse.
After all, she’s the one who taught me just how easy it is to make my own preserved lemons.
So easy that you don’t even need a real recipe for it.
I took a cooking class at Draeger’s years ago that Morse taught. It was there that she turned me on to the endless wonders of preserved lemons.
They cost a tidy sum if you buy them already made in jars in fancy gourmet stores. They cost mere pennies if you make them yourself, especially if you have your own lemon tree.
I always use Meyer lemons just because I love the floral, complex, and less puckery taste that they have. But I also know that Mourad Lahlou, the Marrakech-born chef-owner of Aziza in San Francisco, likes both Meyers and Eurekas, but for different uses. At a cooking demonstration late last year at the Culinary Institute of America’s Greystone Campus in St. Helena, Lahlou said he favors the more delicate preserved Meyer lemons in salads, but preserved Eurekas in long-cooked stews because the rind is thicker and doesn’t break down so much.
Whatever lemon variety you choose, I guarantee you will have a fascinating time making preserved lemons. If you have kids, they’ll have fun watching the lemons do their thing, too. Think of it as your own little science experiment.
Indeed, the first time I wrote about making preserved lemons years ago in the San Jose Mercury News, I admitted I couldn’t stop looking at my lemons as they transformed themselves. I wasn’t the only one. Many readers wrote back after making their own batch, confessing that if they woke up in the middle of the night, they’d sneak a peek at their lemons. Morse even laughed that my lemons had become my pets.