Chicago has been experiencing a remarkably mild winter, the mildest in over seventy years, in fact. I’m not complaining, but it’s still quite chilly in the Midwest and with several months of cold weather on the horizon, I’m aching for Spring. I recently scored a bag of organic lemons and used several of them to bake up lemon squares. I didn’t photograph the lemon squares (although they were fantastic), however I did have a problem figuring out what to do with the seven leftover lemons.
A bit of internet research led me to tackle the art of preserving lemons. Yes, this is my very first try at home pickling. I’m not going to lie, next to yeast breads, canning and pickling terrify me. I just don’t have faith in my abilities to think that I can actually make pickles at home. But in actuality, pickling is ridiculously easy. Let me show you how it’s done.
Lemons, meet salt. Salt is your friend. Salt will keep any bad bugs away from your pickles and encourage nice, helpful bugs to flourish. This sets the ground work for lactic acid fermentation, the same kind of fermentation process as yogurt and sauerkraut.
Next, the lemons needs to be thoroughly scrubbed. I let mine soak in vinegar and water for a bit before scrubbing, to help loosen any waxes or resins. Next, quarter the lemons, making sure to keep them intact at the bottom so that they can be completely packed with salt. While it’s not necessary, I think it’s a good idea to go through the lemons with a sharp paring knife and remove as many seeds that you can find. Collect the juice as your de-seeding. Pack each lemon with salt. I used sea salt which is coarser and forms a thick paste as it mixes with the juice.
After that, simply pack the lemons tightly into a sterilized jar (boil the jar for a few minutes, remove and set on a clean towel). Top the jar with the juice of one or two lemons and pour in a few tablespoons of salt. Close the lid and shake to distribute the salt. You can set in a cool place for a few days and then refrigerate for a month or so until the peels are soft.
I cannot wait to start using these in soups and sauces. They look like little rays of sunshine.