Preserved lemons are a finishing condiment unique to Moroccan cooking. Strictly speaking, they are a type of pickle, since they are being "transformed" into something else while soaking in a brine. They just take longer than your standard refrigerator pickle.
While preserved lemons may not be noticed if omitted in a recipe, once you use them, you’ll want to have them on hand. They have become an ingredient that have been adopted by chefs and used in different ways. Making preserved lemons is easy; this is really a set of instructions. This is the way I learned from a Moroccan chef/friend. Each Moroccan may have her or his own personal twist to the preparation. All you need are lemons, kosher salt, and lemon juice (the bottled kind found in the grocery store works well for this preparation) plus a couple of clean jars, depending on how many you are planning to make. My friend uses pickling spice as a flavoring to make his; it’s not essential. It just adds another dimension to the finished product. Some use cinnamon sticks. Except for the process, there is no “correct” recipe.
Bottled lemon juice
Picking Spice (optional)
To prepare preserved lemons, wash the jars thoroughly. Wash the lemons and dry them. Slice the lemons in half, lengthwise, but leave them attached at the bottom. Cut the lemons again into quarters, leaving them attached at the bottom.
Over a bowl, generously pour salt over all the cut surfaces. Place the salted lemons into the jar; if they don’t fit whole, you can halve them. Fill the jar with as many lemons as will fit. If you are using the pickling spice, spoon a tablespoon of it into the jar. Pour lemon juice into the bowl to dissolve the excess salt and pour this over the lemons in the jar, along with enough lemon juice to fill the jar. Cap the jar, turn it upside down a few times and place the date on the lid. Leave the lemons at room temperature for a day or two, and then refrigerate them. Then wait. The process of preserving takes about two months, but then you’ll have your first supply of preserved lemons.
I know that someone said that the waiting is the hardest part but once they have been made, your hard work is all done.
I’ll get back to you with some recipes, but you’ll have to wait.
*Tired of Waiting, lyrics by Ray Davies
(How many more song cliches can I pull out for this one?)