Preserved lemons

Makes 1.5 kg

There is simply no substitute for the distinctive flavour preserved lemons add to Moroccan-influenced dishes. They are increasingly easy to buy, but you will mainly find them in

chi-chi food stores and super-posh delis, where they carry a hefty price tag. They are incredibly simple to make, but require a little patience. They need a minimum of a month to mature,

so it is well worth making a big batch.

1.5 kg (3 lb) thin-skinned

lemons or limes

350 g (111⁄2 oz) sea salt

1 tablespoon coriander

seeds, lightly crushed

2 cinnamon sticks

2 lemon leaves or bay leaves

2 tablespoons honey

250 ml (8 fl oz) lemon juice

750 ml (24 fl oz) warm water

Wash and dry the lemons. Cut them lengthways into quarters, from the point of the lemon to three-quarters of the way down, but leave them joined together at the base. Place them in a plastic bag in the freezer for 24 hours. This dramatically speeds up the maturing process.

 

Defrost the lemons. Stuff the centre of each lemon with a heaped teaspoon of salt. Arrange them neatly in a 2 litre jar, sprinkling each layer with more salt and crushed coriander seeds as you go. Stuff the cinnamon sticks into the jar with the

lemon leaves.

 

Mix the honey and lemon juice with the warm water until the honey dissolves. Pour into the jar so that the lemons are completely covered. Screw on the lid and put the jar into a large pot on top of a piece of cardboard (this stops the jar vibrating).

Pour in enough warm water to come halfway up the sides of the jar and slowly bring it to the boil. Boil for 6 minutes, then remove from the heat. Lift the jar out of the water and store in a cool, dry place for at least a month before opening. Once opened, keep refrigerated.

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