Up close shot of sliced lemons
Give Your Recipes Some Zest With Preserved Lemons
By Garth Clingingsmith
Traditionally, preserved lemons are covered in salt and allowed to pickle, and once preserved, you can use the entire fruit, not just the flesh or outer zest. As an important ingredient in cuisines across India, the Middle East, and Northern Africa, they are one of a cook's greatest tools to give your dish a good dose of umami, extreme saltiness, and plenty of sourness.
As they're often too bold to add to a dish alone, diced preserved lemons are added to many types of condiments, like basil-preserved lemon pesto, and can be used to brighten an olive tapenade, salsa verde, or a bloody Mary. On their own, preserved lemons need to be minced as finely as possible to be used as a lemon zest as a tasty garnish for hummus or guacamole — just be sure to adjust the salt levels.
You can find jars of preserved lemons at most supermarkets, especially Middle Eastern or Arabic grocers, or buy them off Amazon. Another option is to make them yourself by making two cuts in a lemon, rubbing the whole thing with kosher salt, and then putting it in a tightly closed jar with peppercorns and bay leaves for three to four weeks in a cool, dark area.