When life gives you lemons…all the ‘gyaan’ you needed on lemons

When life gives you lemons…all the ‘gyaan’ you needed on lemons
My super talented sister Cherida Fernandez will henceforth be a regular contributor to my blog PottyPadre. Today she will share with you her gyaan on lemons; from preserving it, to its origins and its uses. Oh by the way the artwork is hers too…
Preserved lemon.
3-4 ripe lemons.
Approximately 75 g coarse salt
500 ml glass jar with lid.
1-2 lemons just for juice.(don’t throw away that peel!)

Once you have bought some thin skinned,ripe, lemons.

Slice the whole lemon 3/4ths of the way down into quarters. Don’t cut all the way through. You now have 4 wedges. Sprinkle some coarse salt within the cut lemon. Bring it back into shape with your hands and pack it tightly into the jar.

Do this with all the lemons and once you are done top with some salt and close the lid. Your aim is to have them tightly packed and eventually covered in juice.

For the next 4 days all you have to do is keep it at room temperature, away from the sun and flip or shake the jar. This releases the lemon juice in time.

After 4 days take the 5th lemon and top the jar with its juice. At this point if the lemons are not covered in juice you’ll will probably have to use the juice of one more.

Seal your tightly packed lemon jar well and place it in the fridge or in a dark dry corner and you could flip it from time to time or leave it alone.

Once the skins have changed colour your preserved lemons are ready! This takes a few months and patience on your end. The Moroccans use them after 7 months.  It has a shelf life of 6 months but personally once opened if stored in the fridge I have  used it for much longer. The longer they are left the more softer, richer and darker they become.

 *Thicker skinned lemons take longer.

** Organic if possible. If you can’t, soak it in a solution of vinegar and water, rinse and air dry.

***Feel free to use more lemons if you have any using the same steps mentioned above until tightly packed.

****The Moroccans leave it at room temperature but with the weather touching crazy highs nowadays. I’d say placing it in your fridge is a safer choice.

So what do you use it for and why not use regular lemon anyway?

But first a little history….

Lemon has its own place in our food world. In fact even at this stage it has countless uses.

I often say if you want a lemony zing just squeeze some lemon but if you want to take your dish to a whole new level it has to be preserved lemons.

Preserving lemons is an age old tradition from North Africa, the Middle East and even in parts of India.

Largely used in Middle Eastern dishes (especially Morocco), thin skinned local lemons called doqq and boussera are used as they are juicier and more fragrant. The brine (A mix of salt and lemon juice.Sometimes filtered water is added) created softens the skin of the lemons and brings out an intense,unique salty-sweet flavour.

My favourite way to eat them is thinly sliced in a roasted chicken sandwich with some greens or the rind chopped and tossed in a salad or chilly fry.

*look at the illustration for tips on how to use a whole lemon. You’ll never  throw any of it out again!

So let’s get down to how you can use it!

-You could blend it without the brine until smooth and add it to freshen up a stew or to season meat or fish.

– Use it chopped in a falafel or Tagine.

– Add it to your mix of vegetables while roasting or your couscous or pasta.

-Use a bit of that zing in your Hummus or Guacamole.

-The skin can be separated, finely diced and added to sandwiches and salads and dressings.

-I’ve even heard of people use it in jams, relishes and dips.

All you have to do is taste it and in time you’ll know through instinct and practise  just how much of this flavour bomb is required to elevate your favourite dishes.

Cherida Fernandez can be contacted at 

Instagram:@cheriillustrates @cherida_fernandez
Mail: [email protected]

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