Until recently, preserved lemons turned up mostly in Moroccan tagines and other North Africans stews, as well as some Middle Eastern dishes. But they’re definitely migrating to take their place in a well-stocked multi-ethnic home pantry. The jarred versions—and there are definitely some good ones out there—are often so long preserved that their flavor becomes a bit acrid, intensely bitter and rocketfuel-esque. So if you’re at all a lemonhead, you’ll definitely want to start making your own.
At its most traditional, this means cutting whole lemons, rubbing them all over with coarse salt, and then packing them in a jar with salt and lemon juice to cover. You leave them at room temperature for 4 or 5 weeks to ferment, and then you can refrigerate them until you use them up. Another bonus of making your own preserved lemons is that the pulp, which so many recipes tell you to scrape out and discard, is actually fantastic for muddling into cocktails, pureeing into dips, adding to soups, sauces and stews, and mixing into your next pot of greens.
Here are just two examples of how to make preserved lemons: