Preserved Lemons have a few different aliases: you may know them as lemon pickle or lemon confit (though I tend to think of lemon confit as something else entirely). Whatever you call them, making at least one jar of these has become a favorite yearly tradition of mine, using some of Karen’s wonderful meyers. I love the yearly splurge so – no other time of the year is it more appreciated and so needed. February is tough – the cold around here really starts to get old, record-breaking snowfall wears you out and your bones themselves begin to crave spring. Warm sunny says seem so long ago they become the stuff of legend.
Luckily, meyer lemons cure all ills. And preserving them in salt captures their brightness for year-round use. I make a different batch each year. The first year I made them, I used equal parts pimentón and cayenne. They were nothing if not LOUD. The flavor mellowed towards the end of the jar, but in 2012, I veered in a different direction and used curry spices – cardamom, black pepper, cinnamon, coriander and cumin seeds. A nice change, but I find myself longing for some heat. Some – in no way shape or form am I anywhere close to becoming a chile head, but I do find myself appreciating some lower-end Scoville units in my preserved lemons.
This year, I went with aleppo pepper. It’s recent arrival bought from a new year spice binge from Whole Spice (PS: they might be having a 30% off sale right now – use the code “spice.” I’m sorry for your wallet/You’re welcome.) I find myself reaching for it when I want to add some subtle heat to savory dishes. Nothing could ever replace the pimentón I remain practically wedded to, but aleppo chiles bring something else the to table. The more I find myself drawn to it, the more I find my thoughts with the city that shares its name. As this batch lasts through the year, I hope by the time I finish it some peace has come to Syria.
Aleppo Pepper Preserved Lemons
5-6 meyer lemons, ends removed and quartered
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
3 tablespoons crushed aleppo pepper
2 bay leaves
Coarse salt to cover, approximately 1 1/2 cups
Remove both ends of your lemons and quarter them, reserving any juice. Take a wide mouth quart jar and cover the bottom with salt. Mix the remainder of salt with the aleppo and black pepper. Tilt the jar at an angle, careful not to spill any salt, an add quartered lemon slices in one even layer. Tuck your bay leaves on each side, between the lemons and the edge of the jar. Add enough peppered salt to cover, and then add another layer of lemons. Repeat until you are almost out of room in the jar. Top with the remaining salt and reserved lemon juice. Shake on your counter about once a day for a week or so, and then place in a darker spot in your pantry.
To use, strip off the lemon flesh and discard. Chop the peel and add to soup, tagines or even preserves.