The Meyer lemon trees in Berkeley, including mine, are still loaded with fruit. Not wanting to waste a single lemon, I searched through my cookbook collection to find something new to make with them. I came across a way to preserve lemons quicker, and different from, the pungent, super-salty, whole-fruit method.This recipe for “Cured Lemons” comes from Thomas Keller’s cookbook, Ad Hoc at Home. The lemons are sliced, layered with a mixture of salt and sugar, and left in the refrigerator to cure for two weeks. The end product is salty and a bit sweet and retains the brightness of fresh lemons. After a rinse, you can put the slices atop fish, chicken, or on vegetables to be roasted in the oven. Cured lemons are also wonderful chopped up in salad dressing. Try adding a little more sugar and caramelizing them with a torch or under a broiler to make a bold topping for pound cake or other desserts.
Start with a good layer of the salt/sugar mixture on the bottom of your container. Slightly overlap the lemon slices on top.Sprinkle more salt/sugar mixture over every layer of lemons. Make sure to cover the lemons slices completely with the sugar mixture. The above photo is taken mid-sprinkle.
Discard the bulky end pieces, and the seeds.
- 8 lemons (any kind of lemon will be good), washed and dried
- 1 ¾ cups sugar
- 1 ½ cups kosher salt
Slice the lemons into 1/8- inch rounds, discarding the end pieces and the seeds.
Combine the sugar and salt in a bowl.
Sprinkle about a ½-inch layer of the sugar mixture in the bottom of a small square or rectangular container (6”x6” or 7”x5” are perfect). Arrange two rows of slightly overlapping lemon slices on top, and top with the sugar mixture that just covers the lemon slices completely. As you layer the lemons, the goal is to have enough of the sugar mixture evenly distributed on the slices so that when it dissolves, all of the lemon slices will be covered with the liquid. (It is better to use too much sugar and salt than too little, because any exposed areas of lemon can mold.) Continue the process, alternating the lemon slices and sugar mixture, ending with a layer of the sugar mixture on top.
Cover the container and wrap it tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 2 weeks, or for up to 1 month.
From Ad Hoc at Home
Lemons cure for 2 to 4 weeks.
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