Preserved lemons are called in Morocco "L'hamd Mra9ad" or "L'hamd Mssayr". Hamd Beld or Hamd Marrakshi is mostly used for preserved lemon, but Eureka or Meyer lemons are fine to use. Making your own preserved lemon is so ridiculously easy. You have made enough lemon lemonade, meringue-lemon pies, marmalade and lemon curd, but you still have some Meyer or Eureka lemons left. Why not try preserved lemon if you're a big fan of Moroccan Chicken Tagines? Your heart always sinks for a moment when you realise that preserved lemon is a crucial ingredient used to enhance your Moroccan Tagine recipe and you know you can't find it in any shop near you. Don't let that simple ingredient stopping you from enjoying your favourite dishes. All you need is Hamd which is lemon in Moroccan Darija. To make preserved lemons, you'll need:
-1 or 2 large glass jar with a tight-fitting lid
-10 (or more) fresh lemons
-Fresh lemon juice from 4 lemons or white vinegar (about 50 ml)
-Lots of salt and salt
-1 teaspoon of baking soda
-2 tablespoons of olive oil or vegetable oil
1-First you need to sterilize the glass jars you're using.
a-You may use the dishwasher, setting the cycle at 80°C or 176°F. However, I find it waste of electricity and water to use dishwasher for only 1 or 2 glass jar.
b-or you may use the top-stove, and it will take only 15 to 20 minutes to do so. Place your glass jars with their lids in a big pot filled with cold water. Fire up your top-stove and put the pan on high heat, then cover it. Allow it to boil for 10 minutes. Carefully remove the sterilized jars from the pan, but be careful when you do so because the water is hot, hot, hot! If you are not comfortable with this method, please use dishwasher, better waste water and electricity than hurt yourself!
3-Cut each lemon into quarters but when you cut all way down, make sure that the lemon is still attached to its base.
5-Now start transferring the salt-filled lemon to the clean jar. Lemons should be packed closely to release their juice so compress them as much as you can.
6-Add lemon juice (or vinegar), baking soda and about 50ml of boiled water
7-Sprinkle generously with salt.
8-Pour oil on top.
9-Put the lid on and give it a gentle shake.
10-Set aside in a dark place as food pantry.
11-Leave it for 3 days. On the 4th day, shake the jar and turn it upside down so the lemons on top should be now on the bottom and vice versa.
12-Leave it for 3 days again and turn it upside down. Don't be tempted to open the jar.
13-Leave it now for 1 week, then turn it upside down.
14-Leave it for 2 weeks, turn it upside down.
15-Your lemon should be ready now.
16-Open the jar, lemons must be soft and look lovely.
17-If for some reasons, your lemons are dry maybe because you didn't use the right type of lemon, they are not enough juicy. If it happens, simply add more lemon juice and some boiled water, then close the jar and leave it for another week.
18-When ready to use, store the lemons in the refrigerator, where they’ll keep for at least 6 months, if not 1 year. Rinse before using to remove excess salt.
19-For flavoured preserved lemon, you can add garlic, or cinnamon sticks, or dried chilli, or bay leaf etc...
20-This is the good news: you've just made preserved lemon. However, the bad news is that for the whole year, you'll have no more excuse to avoid making Moroccan Chicken Tagine for your family and your friends!