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UnCanny — preserved lemons for the can jam

January 21, 2010

I’m participating in this can jam courtesy of Tigress in  a Jam.  The challenge is to use the appointed (seasonal) fruit/veg each month in some canned good and to post the results during the appointed week for all to see.   140 people are signed up to participate so I’m excited to see what everyone has been up to!

For January we were to use citrus.  Unfortunately, though this is citrus season, it isn’t something that can survive NY winters so I settled for buying a large bag of beautiful organic lemons.  I’ve wanted to make preserved lemons for ages — since I got back from Morocco and started making pretty tasty tagine — so this was the perfect opportunity.

The recipe I used came from Arabesque – a beautiful recipe book that was given to me by Sarah and Nilay last year.  Everything I have made from there turns out great. I heartily recommend the lamb tagine, and the knafe is out of this world (its a simple pastry with shredded phyllo and mozzarella/ricotta topped with syrup and nuts, so decadent and good).

Anyway, back to the lemons, its hardly a recipe, basically you just cut them into quarters but without cutting all the way through so the piece are still attached, salt them with about one tablespoon of salt each, put them in the jars and wait a few days.  Once the lemons have released their juices and softened up you add enough lemon juice to cover them and seal up the cans.  Then, the hard part, I need to wait a few months before I can eat them… but as soon as I do I’m going to make chicken with preserved lemons and I’ll post the photos right here!

**Update: from what I understand it isn’t necessary to process the cans.  But there is a fair amount of conflicting information on various online sources about all this.  Some people say just store in a cool place and then refrigerate after opening.  Others claim the cans should be immediately refrigerated.  And some people say you should hot water process after  them after a period of about 5-10 days  to extend their pre refrigeration shelf life.  I was going to put my faith in the preservative powers of salt and acid and just leave them in the pantry (aka the pile of cans in our hallway) but it turns out if I did that I wasn’t going to be allowed to participate in the can jam and that made me sad.  So I decided to go with plan c and I got up extra early this morning and processed them for 10 minutes.   The good news is that this should soften up the skins and make them ready to eat sooner, tagine next week I think!!**

Another update: used the lemons in this chicken tagine and it was amazing

–By Talia

21 Comments leave one →
  1. January 23, 2010 8:23 am

    these preserved lemons look amazing. Now need the tagine recipe to go with them. I feel inspired.

  2. January 24, 2010 3:09 pm


    thanks for being a good sport – though there are many different and equally as good ways of preserving food, this particular can jam is about hot water bath canning.

    i for one am happy that you really took the challenge to heart and gave it a shot. this will be a great learning as i have never canned my preserved lemons before and i’m really interested to hear how it affects flavor, taste and texture.

    good stuff!

  3. Lynn permalink
    January 25, 2010 8:09 am

    These look great. I am participating in the can jam even though I don’t have a blog. I am newish to canning and am looking forward to the practice and the lovely pantry full of goodies at the end of the year. I decided on a tri-citrus marmalade I found in a canning book and am using grapefruit, lemon and tangerine for my three citrus fruits. We love moroccan food so I will be making the preserved lemons also to include on out shelves. Thanks for the great example!

  4. January 26, 2010 1:52 pm

    thanks for all the comments. I’ll definitely give you all an update on how the lemons taste as soon as I use them: and I’ll post some tagine recipe info too. Its great to have some other canners to share the canvolution with!

  5. January 29, 2010 9:31 am

    I’m still mulling over if I should join the Can Jam… Like I said on flickr, I think these look fab, and totally want to try it! Will you update when you try them?

    • January 29, 2010 9:50 am

      february is carrots: don’t know if that makes it more or less appealing to you? to be honest i’m not so happy canning things that aren’t in season, it seems to defeat the purpose but i’m thinking of it as a chance to try new recipes which is fun.
      i think you should join… you can never have too many cooking and baking challenges, right?
      i’ll definitely post when i try them.

  6. February 14, 2010 5:36 pm

    Mmmm yummy! They look beautiful!

  7. Sabrina permalink
    March 2, 2010 6:55 pm

    Thanks for sharing your recipe. I lived in Morocco for 13 years and make preserved lemons all the time and give to friends as well. The only difference in my recipe is that I dip the lemons in boiled water for 30 seconds, wipe them very dry and then follow the process you describe of cutting them and filling them with salt etc. I don’t know what the boiling does, but that’s what I saw a lot of women do in Morocco. Can’t wait to see your tagine recipe. Out of curiosity: where did you get your tagine? I have been looking for one in the US.

    • March 2, 2010 8:25 pm

      Hi Sabrina: I imagine the boiling water might speed up the process? How long did you wait before using the lemons? Funnily enough I just did a big batch now before seeing your comment or I would have tried half that way to figure out the difference!
      I posted the chicken recipe here: its from the same book as the lemons. I did it in a regular pot not a tagine though, I don’t have one. I know you can get them at kalustyan’s in nyc, check out their website…

      • Sabrina permalink
        March 2, 2010 8:38 pm

        Thank you for your quick reply. I don’t know if the boiling speeds up the process, but I think it’s more of a quick rinse, I may be wrong. Kalustyan is one of my favorite stores. I used to be a grad student at The New School a couple of years ago before I moved to DC and used to go there often. Do check out the small restaurant right across called “Naimat Kada.” Not the cleanest place, but they do have the most awesome chicken samosas for only $1 🙂 Good luck on your lemon preserves batch 🙂

  8. Sabrina permalink
    March 2, 2010 8:39 pm

    And to answer your question: unfortunately, it does take a couple of months for the lemons to be ready.

    • March 2, 2010 8:41 pm

      I guess there are no shortcuts for something so delicious… I got nervous just thinking about the wait which is why I made a new batch while I still have a few left!
      I will definitely try “naimat kada” next time I go to Kalustyan’s… it sounds like it would be great if I can squeeze in a trip at lunchtime one day soon! Thanks

      • Sabrina permalink
        March 2, 2010 9:14 pm

        And if you don’t want to wait for months, you can get them for very cheap at Sahadi’s in Brooklyn 🙂

      • March 3, 2010 6:39 am

        maybe in a lemon emergency!!

  9. amy permalink
    March 5, 2010 6:25 pm

    I’m wondering if anyone can compare preserved lemons that have not been processed in a water bath and those that have – I have for years made preserved lemons without processing them but am thinking of trying to process them. But I don’t want to adversely change the texture. Anyone compare the two?

    • March 5, 2010 6:28 pm

      Why do you want to start processing them? I had decided not to process again and just did a batch that is going to live unprocessed. It seems like an unnecessary step…

  10. carolann krimmer permalink
    June 24, 2011 4:15 pm

    so the hot water bath worked out okay? do you know the shelf life of the lemons w/the water bath being done?


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