In the realm of preserves as condiments, preserved lemons are top of the list. Once you have discovered them you will never go back! They are absurdly easy and cheap to make during lemon season – no cooking involved – and they are so difficult to find and expensive that they make great gifts. So it is worth bottling them.
You can use any kind, but I find bush lemons with their thick skin and sweetness make the absolute best preserved lemons.
Sterilize your jars (and their lids) by boiling for ten minutes or pressure cooking for five. This recipe will make about 4 medium jars.
Measure out 250 grams of salt.
Chop 10 lemons into sixteenths. Put them in a big bowl, sprinkling them as you go with the salt. Massage in.
Pack the lemon pieces into your jars, pressing down to really pack them in and inserting a couple of bay leaves, some splinters of cinnamon stick, and a couple of whole cloves into each jar.
Pour the juice left in the bowl evenly into the jars. You will be left with some undisolved salt in the bottom of the bowl. Juice 2 more lemons and try to dissolve the salt in the juice. Top up the jars so they are quite full and the lemons are covered. Discard any salt that is left.
Wipe the neck of the jar with a clean cloth dipped in boiled water and seal with a sterilized lid. Store in a cool spot for at least a month before using, better two months.
The lemons may develop a white mould where they are exposed. It won’t harm you. You can throw out the exposed lemon, but the rest of the jar is fine.