Pin It
Wednesday, January 2nd, 2013

Preserved Moroccan Lemon: Make-Your-Own

By
Preserved Moroccan Lemon: Make-Your-Own/ © flickr

As a half-Moroccan household, you would think I would have embraced cooking with preserved lemon much sooner than I did. Truth be told, I was a bit intimidated by preserved lemon. I didn’t know how to make it and thought a fresh lemon slice would suffice just fine as a substitute. I was very, very wrong.

 

The first time I encountered preserved lemon (l’hamed marakad in Moroccan Arabic) was on my second trip to Morocco. (On the first trip, true to Moroccan hospitality, the family didn’t let me anywhere near the kitchen, as a guest should not be helping out in there!). That next trip, I finally weaseled my way into the kitchen to observe my mother- and sister-in-law cook. My sister-in-law pulled a beat-up glass jar out of the drawer and dropped something slimy-looking into the chicken and olive dish on the stove.

 

What was that? I asked. She told me the name in Arabic, which was lost on me, opening the lid for me to peer in. I was skeptical. It looked old and like it had potentially been sitting in the drawer too long. What the hell was that?

 

Some weeks after, I was googling Moroccan recipes and there it was: preserved lemon. Having none on hand and in a hurry, I figured a slice of lemon would do. And that momentary, hurried decision became my go-to repertoire for Morocco cooking. Oh, preserved lemon? I just threw in a slice of fresh lemon, as if that was somehow ok, as if I wasn’t butchering a world-renowned cuisine.

 

I ignorantly followed along my own blind path of Moroccan cooking, too intimidated to try to make preserved lemon. How would I know if the lemons went bad? How much salt? Did I have to sterilize the jar? Do I add water?

 

My Moroccan babysitter, who has been a Godsend to our family, came to my rescue. In her first week on the job, she noticed I had no preserved lemon in the spice cabinet and promptly rectified that. And thanks to her, I learned just how easy it was to make.

 

Ingredients

Lemon

Salt

Glass jar

Saran wrap

 

Instructions

1. Sliver some lemons in eighths.

2. Pour salt over a plate. Fully coat each side of the lemon slice in salt.

3. Drop into a clean jar that has been sterilized with boiling water and wiped 100% dry, with no drops of water. Pack the lemons firmly in there, pressing down each layer as you fill the jar. Once all the lemons are in the jar, sprinkle some more salt liberally in there.

4. Put the top on and then put a layer of plastic wrap with an elastic band over the top to secure it, ensuring no air seeps in.

5. Leave the lemons for at least 2 weeks, preferably longer, before you can use them.

6. The lemons can be stored in a cabinet at room temperature and will keep for months. I have noticed many recipes advocate refrigerating them, but I never refrigerated mine and they did not go bad and none of the Moroccans I know refrigerate theirs. So take your pick!

 

Some people put spices in with their preserved lemons such as cinnamon stick, cloves, coriander seeds or black peppercorns. I have yet to experiment with anything beyond just lemons.

 

preserved-lemon

courtesy © flickr

 

The absolute joy of being able to make my own preserved lemon (from Meyer lemons grown in our yard, which is doubly exciting) is that I have discovered it is not just for Moroccan cooking. And it goes without saying that it makes Moroccan dishes taste that much better. As I was cooking up some diced chicken tonight in olive oil, after sprinkling in my usual cumin (I add this to almost everything) and a dash of salt, I decided to experiment with one slice of preserved lemon, chopped finely. And oh my, did that make my normal chicken taste amazing! We used it for our gluten-free, dairy-free, tomato-free pizza. Yes I know that sounds like a poor excuse of a pizza, but my oldest daughter can not eat any of those things at the moment and guess what? It was really good! (We topped our gluten free crust with sweet potato hash, bite-size lemon chicken and chopped olives).

 

I can’t wait to explore what else goes well with preserved lemon.  Do you have any suggestions?

 

© 2013, Stephanie Meade. All rights reserved.

More Great Stuff You'll Love:


Arranged Marriage 101

Everything you wanted to know but were afraid to ask

6 Favorite Children’s Books about Ramadan

Our top picks for Muslim and non-Muslim kids alike

A Different World: No Longer Brown in White America

Is it racist to not want to raise your kids in white America?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Stephanie is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of InCultureParent. She has two Moroccan-American daughters (ages 5 and 6), whom she is raising, together with her husband, bilingual in Arabic and English at home, while also introducing Spanish. After many moves worldwide, she currently lives in Berkeley, California.

Leave us a comment!









Notify me of follow-up comments via e-mail.
Or leave your email address and click here to receive email notifications of new comments without leaving a comment yourself.

Get weekly updates right in your inbox so you don't miss out!



A Children's Book for Raising Global Citizens

Every life is a story. It’s easier to understand someone when you know their story.

Why I Travel 13 Hours Alone with My Kids Every Chance I Get

Travelling with children, while definitely more of a mission, contradicts the old saying that “life is about the journey, not the destination.”

A Diverse Book for Preschoolers in Celebration of Multicultural Children's Book Day

A book that honestly and simply celebrates the every day diversity that children experience.

Why My African Feminist Mother Gave Me the Identity of My Father's Tribe

She gave me an identity so different from her own.

2 Children’s Books about Jamaica

Explore Jamaica with your child.

Costa Rica with Kids: Two Weeks of Family Travel

Two weeks of Pura Vida in a country with so much to offer families.

Should I Worry about My Child's Accent in Her Foreign Language?

See why Dr. Gupta takes offense to this question and where children learn accents from

How to raise trilingual kids when exposure to Dad's language is limited

My kids only get 1-2 hours of the minority language per day-help!
Unfortunately, the school and community are no longer there. The farm is being sold and there are tentative plans for a new iteration to be set up in Costa Ric...
From How I Moved to Thailand with my Family on Less than $1000
HI! I love your website! Just read your review of books that teach about culture and food! I can't wait to try some of the recipes you've share...
From Armenian Recipe: Apricot Tart
Please, refrain from using "western /western society" for anglosaxon countries. Western can be Mexico and Spain as well, anything on the west side of the world is western ...
From The West’s Strange Relationship to Babies and Sleep
We've tried to make use of, but It doesn't works by any mean...
From African Parenting: The Sane Way to Raise Children
I'm back. Sorry, I stopped caring for this magazine for a while and forgot to discuss the meat of the matter. This article, as well as the linked article from 2011, fails to discuss cultural norms ...
From What Confused Me Most about Brits
Fascinating. I have been to Germany and met this guy who was soo rude! This article explains everything!! Since all Germans are so terribly rude it should come as no surprise that I should have met ...
From Are Germans Really Rude?
@ Josep. How could you possibly comment on how Germans treat people if you have never even been there? A three-day stay in Berlin and a one day stop-over in Frankfurt was enough for me to see the ut...
From Are Germans Really Rude?
I am trying to find a Sikh triangular Nishan Sahib flag and haven't found one. Do you know where I can find on...
From Vaisakhi Craft: Make a Flag
I have tried to buy a Sikh triagular Nishan Sahib flag and had no luck. Do you know where I can find on...
From Vaisakhi Craft: Make a Flag

More Recipes