Lemon trees are everywhere here in Northern California. When the season is upon us they are abundant and, in addition to sharing lemons with friends and neighbors, we get creative using them. Each year we like to make a few jars of preserved lemons to use the minced peel for garnish on salads and in salmon dishes. We love to throw some into a Bloody Mary drink as well (see Winemaker Joe's recipe here).
8-10 lemons (washed and enough to snugly fit in Mason jar)
2-3 bay leaves
Lots of kosher salt
1 tbsp black peppercorns
1 medium Mason jar (or similar container)
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Generously layer salt on the bottom of the jar and slice each lemon into 4 sections, while keeping the sections adhered at the base of the lemon (so that they almost are cut into quarters and ~½ inch of the bottom section of the lemon). Generously rub kosher salt over the cut wedges and then reshape the fruit. Add the cut lemons to the jar while sprinkling salt on each layer (do not worry if they break apart). Press the lemons down so that the juice releases and add the bay leaves and peppercorns. Cover all contents in the jar with the remaining juiced lemons.
Tightly close the jar and shake it daily. Let the lemons sit at room temperature in the brine until the rinds are tender (~ 3-4 weeks) and then refrigerate. Wash and use the rind either as a raw garnish or in cooking. Use the fleshy pulp in recipes also to contribute some savory lemon flavors without the bitterness found in the rind. You can continue to add more lemons to the brine as the lemons are being used to replenish the jar.