Meyer lemons are like the memory of sunshine after a long stretch of cold and grey winter - bright and zesty, with the promise of spring flowers that will soon be here as if they had never gone. Preserved lemons are such an easy way to keep these beauties around after their season has passed, and become an incredibly flavorful way to add zing and mystery to dishes. I am a little late to jump on this preserved lemon bandwagon, but like any good convert I am leaping in feet-first. Making these is so easy that listing any kind of formulaic recipe would provide an air of complexity that is simply not required.
Find yourself a beautiful jar, or a simply utilitarian one, with a tight-fitting lid.
Now you need lemons. Meyer lemons push this over the top with their beautiful orange color and complexity of flavor, but it is equally good with plain ol' lemons, too, so don't hold back of you can't get the fancy stuff. Estimate about two lemons for each cup your jar holds, but note this can change depending on the size of your lemons. Cut the lemons in half the long way, then cut each half in quarters. Leave the seeds in, take the seeds out, it doesn't really matter. I am lazy and I leave them in.
Layer in one thickness of lemon on the bottom of the jar. Sprinkle with one tablespoon of sea salt.
Add another layer of lemon, and another sprinkle of salt. Continue like this until the jar is full of lemon and salt. Pack those lemons in there fairly tightly, you want to squash out as much air as you can.
Put the lid on and let it sit for 3 days. The lemons will start to exude juice. If, at the end of 3 days, your lemons are completely covered with juice, you're good to go. If your lemons are not fully covered with juice, open up that jar and add enough lemon juice to cover them.
The last ingredient is time. Let the jar sit for 2 more weeks. After that period the lemons will become more pliable and slightly muted in color, but the acid is tempered by the puckery saltiness and the whole has magically transformed into much more than just the sum of the parts.
Make it prairie: add a sprinkle of peppercorns (I like the 4-color mix) and a bay leaf after each lemon-salt layer.
Make it Jersey: swap out the sea salt for sel gris and add a sprinkle of chile flakes and dried rosemary after each lemon-salt layer.
Make it rock & roll: use Tahitian vanilla infused salt and add in star anise, or kaffir lime leaves.
To use, pull out a wedge, scrape off the pulp, and slice the rind thinly.
Next up: stuff to use that preserved lemon in.