Why the heck will you bother preserving lemon peels? Well, because they are so delicious you won’t believe it.
Besides, the chickens won’t eat them and they take forever to compost, so in my belly they go.
Preserved lemon peel is a Middle Eastern/Morrocan kinda dish. In Israel, we don’t use salad dressing as much as we use it here in the US. Most of the time, when we make salads we dress them with olive oil, lemon juice, and salt. It’s so simple, so tasty, and so much healthier than all those dressings that have a ton of mayo in them.
Oh, and we eat a salad in almost every meal. So what is one going to do with so many lemon peels at the end of the day? Preserve them, of course.
They will last pretty much forever and you can use them in many ways, You can add them to a sandwich, for example, a turkey sandwich or a cheese sandwich. You can add them to any fish or chicken or turkey dish. You can cook them with celery or fennel or carrots or kale. You can put them in the food processor and turn them into a lemon paste which you can spread on bread, or chicken or fish. Really, the possibilities are endless.
Let me show you how my mother is doing this (there is another way that I will talk about at the end of this post)…
First, acquire a few lemons. Let’s say, you used the juice for cooking or salad or whatever, instead of throwing the peel, place it in a ziplock bag or a container in the fridge. By the way, you can keep the lemon seeds and use them in jams since they have natural pectin in them and will thicken your jam naturally (I show how to do this here).
Once you have a few lemons, cut them into small pieces. We used about 6 lemons here, I think, and we cut each lemon into 8 pieces. You can go smaller or larger with your pieces, there are no rules.
Place your lemon peels in a pot and fill it with water.
Place your pot on the stovetop and bring the water to a boil. Lower the heat but keep your water boiling gently. We want the peels to soften, this might take 30 minutes or maybe 45, depending on how thick your lemon peels are. Keep checking the softness with a fork just as you will do with potatoes.
Once the lemons are soft, transfer them to a strainer or a colander and let them dry and cool a bit.
Once the peels are dry and cool, put them back in the pot or in a mixing bowl and add 6 tablespoons of oil…
And 4 tablespoons of salt (preferably sea salt)…
Until the lemons are all coated with the oil and salt.
Then all you have to do now is transfer the lemons into a jar and keep it in the fridge. They are ready to eat.
Now, the reason we boil the lemons is because we want them to be ready to eat right away. The reason we keep them in the fridge is because we want to use a smaller amount of oil.
If you don’t want to boil the lemons and if you don’t want to have to keep them in the fridge you can cut your lemons, put some salt in a jar, then a layer of lemons, then a layer of salt, then a layer of lemons and so on until the jar is full. Once the jar is filled with lemons and layers of salt, add oil all the way to the top. If you do it this way you can leave the jar in the pantry but it will take the lemons a couple of months until they soften.
Another note to make is that you can add different seasoning to the lemons. You can add whole cloves of garlic, red pepper flakes, cayenne pepper if you like it spicy, maybe some thyme… Be creative.
Also, if you like, you can make this with whole lemons instead of just the peel, just make sure to cut them to smaller pieces.
OK, I think I gave you enough options! Now go get busy.
’till next week…