Summer is a great time to focus on fresh ingredients and simple preparations, but that doesn’t mean food can’t be flavorful too! One of my longtime secret weapons in the flavor department is preserved lemon. I love the buttery, salty tang it lends to all kinds of dishes. Recently, I decided to change things up and made some preserved limes. I found that the distinct flavor of lime translated well as a preserve, and it’s been the perfect unexpected star in some of my favorite summer dishes like salsa, potato salad, jams, and even a few desserts.
Making preserved citrus is a cinch — all you really need is a little time. Be sure to start out with well-scrubbed organic limes (since you’ll be eating the exterior, you want the limes to be as pesticide-free as possible). Also stock up on a natural sea salt for the most mild flavor.
4 – 5 organic limes per pint jar, plus more for juicing
1/2 cup sea salt
Thoroughly wash and dry your jars and lids. Set aside.
Slice off the very tip of the stem end of the lime, and then quarter, leaving 1″ of the tip in tact (this way the lime is opened, but still attached at one end). Pour 3 tablespoons of salt into the bottom of the jar. Then pour salt over the flesh of each lime, set it in the jar, and press down firmly, so that most of the juices are released. Keep doing this until the jar is full. Top off with any remaining salt, and make sure there is enough lime juice to cover the fruit. Juice a few limes if needed.
Clean the rims and seal the jars. Store in the refrigerator. Turn the jars upside down occasionally while they cure, ideally for 10 to 21 days. The limes are completely cured when the rind is translucent. And though a completely cured lime is the most flavorful, there’s no reason you can’t cheat and use a few before they’re totally ready.
To use the preserved limes, pull out a lime, or just a section of one, push off the flesh with your thumb, and rinse the rind under cold water. Then dice or slice and use in any lime-friendly dish you’d like. Keep the unused preserved limes in your refrigerator, where they should keep well for a few months.
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