13
Sep

preserved lemons copy

These pickled lemons are the doqq variety which is small and very thin skinned.

Anissa: It has been quite some time since Charles Perry did a guest post but here he is now with another fascinating post on pickling lemons.

Charles: The Arabs have been  pickling lemons since the Middle Ages. The 13th-century book Kitab al-Wusla ila al-Habib says, “Salty lemons (laimun malih). They are  so well known they need no description.” Nevertheless, Wusla eventually gives a recipe: “Take lemons, slice them crosswise and fill them with crushed salt. Then press them into a bowl and leave for two nights for them to soften. Then press them very strongly into a glass jar, squeeze lemon juice to cover and pour it over them, and seal with oil. Their flavor keeps well.” The flavor of pickled lemons is distinctive – somewhat piney, but not bracing like pine; in fact, plush, languid, decadent. Food science writer Harold McGee tells me the chemistry of this change has not been studied, but he speculates that the pine note comes from chemicals in lemon peel called terpenes – there are also terpenes in conifers, where they also serve to protect the plant from  microbes.

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