Preserved or fermented lemons are a delicious way to add flavor and health benefits to many of your favorite dishes. Most Americans use only the flesh of the lemon, but fermenting transforms the rind into a sparkling addition to grains, salad dressings, pasta, poultry and seafood dishes.
I have a special fondness for lemons. I start each day with a warm lemon water tonic to rehydrate after the fast that occurs during sleep; and love to sip on herbal tea with lemon and honey during the day. Recently, I have taken to using lemons more in my cooking. By preserving lemons in a salt brine, I add the benefits of good bacteria while creating a vehicle for both lemon flavor and salt in my cooking.
Aromatic salted lemons provide the perfect accent to both sweet and savory dishes. A little goes a long way when you finely chop the fermented lemon rinds. Once you make a jar, they will keep for months in your refrigerator. One of my favorite ways to use fermented lemons is in stews and slow cooked dishes with lots of vegetables. Just adding a tablespoon of finely minced, fermented lemon rind magically makes any dish more delicious.
The simplicity of this recipe reminds me that many traditional ways of preserving food serve a dual purpose. The food is preserved, creating a shelf life for later use, and the nutritional value of the food is increased during the preservation process. Lacto-fermenting lemons is a quick and easy way to use lemons and add more good bacteria to your diet.
I make 2 batches a year. One with thin skinned Meyer lemons, which have a bit more sweetness to them; and a more tart batch with regular lemons. This way, I always have lacto-fermented lemons on hand to add to my cooking.
Here are some of the tools you’ll need for these lacto-fermented lemons:
- 5-6 lemons
- 1/4 cup sea salt
- 2 Tbsp. Kombucha - optional speeds up the fermenting process
- 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
- Wash lemons in warm water and remove any butts of stem on the ends.
- Quarter lemons, being careful not to cut through the bottom. They should remain attached at the bottom but open with 4 sections.
- Combine lemon juice and kombucha in a measuring cup.
- Sprinkle interior of each lemon with sea salt. One at a time, place lemons in Mason jar, and, using the back of a wooden spoon, mash each lemon to release the juice.
- Continue to add and mash lemons until the jar is full.
- Add lemon juice and kombucha mixture to cover lemons
- Screw top on jar.
- Store at room temperature out of direct sunlight for 10 days. Flip the jar over each day, so you are rotating the lid on the top and then the lid on the bottom every other day. This keeps the lemons submerged.
- After 10 days store in the refrigerator. Lemons keep for a year refrigerated.
To use, finely chop the rind, discarding the flesh.