My adventures recreating Alinea Restaurant’s food at home

Preserved Meyer Lemons

Ingredient in TOMATO, Mozzarella, Many Complementary Flavors; and LAMB, In Cubism.

recipe for Preserved Meyer Lemons

Although it’s not a dish in itself, but a condiment, I thought I’d add it here. Preserved lemons add a bit of zing to any recipe, and are quite easy to make. Given that these take three months in the freezer, we’re going to do a batch now, so later we can do some of the recipes that call for it.

I’ve bought Moroccan pickled lemons before at North Park Produce, which were spiced with coriander seeds and pickled in a brine solution. The flesh and rind of the lemon are tender and wholly edible.

A note about Meyer lemons (Citrus × meyeri)

Meyer lemons are sweeter and milder than regular store-bought lemons, and sometimes have a thicker skin. I use them exclusively in cooking, from two Improved Meyer lemon trees we planted ten years ago. They’re now about 16 feet high and yield a bountiful crop regularly. My kids have made so much lemonade over the years, I think they may be a financial threat to Hot Dog On A Stick.

The trees flower and fruit all year round in our mild San Diego climate, making them a perfect choice of backyard citrus tree. At night the scent of the lemon blossoms is almost magical.

But ya gotta watch out for ocassional whitefly infestations. They’re pretty easy to knock off the leaves with a pressure hose. And make sure to spray the kids while you’re at it!

So let’s get started!

Easy. Three ingredients.

I started with 4 ripe lemons, since I’m doubling the recipe. I cut the tips off and quartered. (Usually when you make this, you quarter the lemons, keeping one end attached, so they almost look like an blooming flower.)

Meyer Lemons

Then added equal parts sugar and kosher salt. I know I’ll get used to it. But, boy, measuring everything by metric weight is going to take a little getting used to!

meyer lemon

The sugar/salt coating will draw out the juices to create the pickling brine, so I made sure to squeeze as much of the juice out of the lemons as I mixed.

Meyer lemon

Pack the mixture into a container and freeze for 3 months!

Meyer lemon
Why freeze, rather than refrigerate?

Chef Achatz describes the technique, as learned from his mentor, Thomas Keller.

“When he [Keller] started the technique at Rakel in NYC, they didn’t have room to cure the lemons in the refrigerator, and since the freezer was largely under-utilized, they put them in there to save space. The results were great. Basically what happens is it slows the curing time down and reduces both oxygen and the possibility of fermentation that might result at warmer temperatures. Both oxidation and fermentation will result in a discolored rind (brown), and a much softer texture. The freezer lemon rinds remain quite firm and bright yellow.”

Source: Alinea Mosaic

We’ll come back to this in January…

It’s months later, and I took the container out of the freezer.

Preserved Meyer Lemon

And they look pretty good. I’d recommend that you make sure to put them in the salt cure skin-side down. Some of the skins facing up were not as “preserved” as I’d hoped for. Other than that, we’re good to go with these!

Preserved meyer lemon

4 Meyer lemons
C&H cane sugar
Diamond Crystal kosher salt

Stainless mixing bowl
Salter digital scale
Kitchen knife and cutting board
Glad Ware plastic containers

Yields: depends on if you’re using the whole thing, the piths or just the peel.

Next, Simple Syrup.

Revised 21 Feb 2018.

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