24-Hour Preserved Lemons

By Cook's Illustrated Published September 2016

Preserving lemons in salt softens their rinds and imbues the fruit with a floral, pungent flavor through fermentation.

A staple of North African cuisines, preserved lemons are preserved whole or in wedges and then sliced or chopped and added to recipes, pith and all. They often appear in tagines but can bring depth to seafood, dressings, and even roasted vegetables. Because the process takes a month or longer, we were excited when we found a “quick” version from Jeff Cerciello, chef at Los Angeles’s Farmshop. While these lemons lack the intensity of the real deal, they still boast complexity. The trick is to slice them thin, add sugar to help offset the acidity and bitterness, and add oil to help soften the pith. Here’s our adaptation of the method. The lemons will keep, refrigerated, for two weeks.

SLICE THIN: Slice 3 lemons thin crosswise.

MIX: Toss with 3 tablespoons each sugar and salt. Stir in 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil.

STORE: Pack into bowl or jar, cover, and refrigerate for at least 24 hours or up to 2 weeks.