Take advantage of winter citrus season and add a bit of sunny brightness to your meals with a small batch of these quick & easy Preserved Lemons scented with Bay Leaves & Cardamom.
Meyer Lemons are in season!
For someone that loves preserving things, the fall can start to feel pretty dull. Gone are the piles of brightly colored berries, fragrant peaches and apricots, and succulent cherries and plums. The supermarket is full of similarly colored red and yellow apples, giving the fruit aisle a sense of monotony. Not that there is anything wrong with apples, mind you. They just don’t excite me to pull out my canning tools or to invent a new recipe the way summer produce does.
Then citrus season starts, and you begin seeing one of my favorite winter fruits: The Meyer Lemon.
Preserving Meyer Lemons
How can I describe a Meyer Lemon as it differs from a regular everyday lemon? The peel is smoother, softer – not thick and craggily like many conventional kinds. The scent is sweetened and almost a bit floral, rather than stringent and harsh. Meyer Lemons add a salty and acidic brightness to almost anything you use them in. They make me want to spend time in my kitchen.
Meyer lemons aren’t in season for long though. To keep a bit of that sunny uniqueness all year long, your best bet is to make a batch of salt preserved lemons. I’ve mentioned preserved lemons before, and thought this year I’d actually share my preferred method. Many recipes I’ve found make a lot more lemons than I find myself using in a year. This small batch is just the right size for me. If you want more though, you can easily double the recipe. You’ll just need a bigger jar – or a second one.
Not sure how to use your newly made small batch preserved lemons? Here are a few ideas:
- Creamy Mushroom & Roasted Asparagus Pappardelle Pasta with Panko and Preserved Lemon Crunch
- Cod with Potatoes and Preserved Lemon Relish
- Moroccan Chicken with Lemon and Olives
Small Batch Preserved Lemons with Bay Leaves & Cardamom
- 1 pound meyer lemons
- 1 cup coarse kosher salt
- 3 bay leaves
- 7 dried cardamom pods
- 2 cups bottled lemon juice, as needed
- 1 sterilized small-mouthed quart jar, ring, and lid
- Thoroughly wash the Meyer Lemons and sterilize your quart jar. Any glass lidded jar will do, but I prefer the small mouthed quart jars because the curved top helps keep the lemon wedges submerged in liquid.
- Prepare the lemons: slice off both ends of each lemon, being careful to leave some pith. Setting each lemon on one end, slice down as if you are cutting the lemon in half, but stop before cutting all the way through. Repeat crosswise, cutting the lemon into quarters. Again, do not cut all the way through – you want the lemons to open up like a flower, but remain attached at the bottom. Repeat with all the lemons.
- Pour enough salt in the bottom of the jar to cover it (about 2 tablespoons). Holding the cut lemons over the mouth of the jar, pour a tablespoon of salt into the open “petals” of the lemon. Close the lemon "petals" back up, and pack the lemons tightly into the jar. Add salt between each layer. You can add the bay leaves and cardamom pods as you go, or slip them in once the jar is full. Press the lemons down, releasing some of the juices. Top with additional lemon juice until covered.
- Close the lid tightly and store in a cool, dark place for 3 days. Each day, open the jar to press down the lemons to keep them submerged in liquid, and shake up the contents. After the third day, store the jar of lemons in the fridge. Allow them to cure for 3 weeks in the fridge. Shake it occasionally to redistribute the salt.
- When ready to use, remove a lemon from the jar and rinse it with cold water. Cut away and discard the inner flesh and pulp of the lemons – the part you want is the preserved lemon peel. Slice or chop the peel as desired and use in all manner of dishes for a bit of tangy, salty-sweet flavor all year long.