I once made a tall jar of Moroccan preserved lemons that believe it or not, still stands in my cupboard with some of the original contents from 2003. I had two lemons left and was curious about how long they could last, as I'd read that these preserved lemons, if made properly could last indefinitely or till Armageddon, whichever came first. Challenge accepted!
Well, after almost ten years, I have to grudgingly tip my hat to the Moroccans. They know pickles and they know lemons. They now look too alarming to even consider eating (see that ominously dark pointed ovoid in the saucer below?), but in that dark, murky brine, the lemons are otherwise perfectly preserved, I dare say, mummified or should that be lemomified? Having lived to the ripe, old age of ten, a very venerable age for lemons I'm told, I wonder if they might perhaps, cure cancer, or even, the common cold....
The familiar and appetite sharpening scent of slightly musky and sharp salted citrus from the lemon crypt made my stomach growl for some chicken tajine with cous cous, rice or flatbread. But like I said, no way was I letting those fossilised fruit near my mouth. So, like a hungry wolf, keening for fresh, warm meat, I went lemon hunting and came back with half a dozen.
They add a zesty edge to a toasted cheese sandwich, a stuffed pita or your favourite flat bread and curry combo. I can't resist lifting pieces from the jar and nibbling on them, like buah kana (Asian preserved fruit), favourite snack of expectant mums and those who go green at the gills, after 5 minutes in a trundling vehicle.
My favourite flatbread of the moment, has fallen completely in love with my favourite new pickle, and the two are now inseparable. I'm hurt, but I bear no grudge and wish them both happiness and the patter of tiny, pickled, bready feet very, very soon. Something bound to happen, the way those two have been going at it *ahem* I'll just close the door on my way out.....
easy lemon pickle
prep 3 days makes 1 med jar (10 - 12 servings)
6 medium sized unwaxed lemons (I buy lemons labelled unwaxed and soak them in very warm water - I have trust issues)
100 g (2/3 cup) sugar
60 g (1/3 cup) salt
2 tsp brown mustard seeds, toasted and lightly crushed
2 tsp dry or English mustard (powder)
Wash lemons well, scrubbing the skins gently. Soak washed lemons in very warm water for 45 minutes 1 hour.
Drain and dry lemons thoroughly with clean cloth or kitchen paper. Cut off a little of the top and bottom from each lemon. Cut each lemon vertically in half . Cut each half into 6 chunks. Each lemon will yield 12 chunks. Collect and reserve any juice that leaks out when cutting.
Combine lemons with all the remaining ingredients, including any juice, in a non-metallic bowl and mix thoroughly but gently so lemons don't bruise.
Transfer lemons and all liquid to a clean, dry sterilised jar and seal. Keep jar away from light and chills. Your kitchen cupboard would be perfect. Shake every 12 hours for 3 days. You could do this for a week for a more intense pickle. After 7 days, always store jar in the fridge (especially in the tropics) and eat it all up within 4 months.
Always decant pickle from jar with a clean dry spoon. Never touch pickle directly with fingers unless you're eating it, never dip your eating spoon into the jar *tsk tsk*. Serve with North African, Indian or Thai food.