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I really like preserved lemons, but I often find that I don't plan properly and don't time the month long wait properly. Is there a way to speed this process up?

Preserved Lemons

Quarter lemons
Cover completely with kosher salt
Refridgerate one month
To serve, remove pith, leaving just the rind. Chop and include in sauces, etc.

Based on the first two answers, it's worth noting that the end result here is not dry. Since the lemons still have their juice, they soak / cure / marinate in a wet medium. They soften a bit and the flavor mellows significantly, but they do not dry.

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3 Answers

up vote 3 down vote accepted

Yes, if you have access to sous vide equipment you can make them in less than a day. Here is the process I followed and it worked perfectly.

http://svkitchen.com/?p=614

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Thanks, Stephen. Could you update your answer with the basics of the recipe in case the link ever stops working? –  yossarian Apr 14 '11 at 16:43
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It might be possible to Sulphur them, as with apricots or strawberries. I'm not sure what the 'preserved lemon' looks like at the end of how you've had them (dried, semi-dried, wet, etc); sulfuring results in semi-dried out fruit.

However Sulphur dioxide is not always considered an exmplar of healthy preservation.

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Once preserved, they tend to end up in salty lemonade. The rinds are softened but still retain their original texture. They're certainly not dried. –  yossarian Apr 12 '11 at 14:41
    
@Yoss for that application I'm sure Sulphured is not ideal. Sulphured stuff is semi-dried more toward the totally dried end of the spectrum; so unless you just like chewy bits in your lemonade... XP For other applications, a soak and a quick run through a coffee grinder can get them usable again along the lines of sun-dried tomatoes –  mfg Apr 12 '11 at 14:46
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I've not tried preserving lemons myself, but I wonder if using a dehydrator would speed up your process? If you try this, you might find that because the dehydrator and the salt will be competing to dry out the lemon pieces, you might need a different quantity of salt than you'd normally use.

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Interesting idea. Definitely worth trying. However, preserved lemons are decidedly wet, not dry. Because you put whole, quartered lemon in, there's plenty of fluid, even with all the salt. So the end product doesn't become dry. –  yossarian Apr 12 '11 at 17:27
    
In that case, I assume the salt assists in their preservation less by drying them out (although that must happen to some extent) than by making their juice so saline that microbial growth becomes extremely unlikely. If so, then since aqueous chemical processes tend to happen faster when warmer, you may find that refrigerating the lemons (which also, incidentally, will tend to dehydrate them) actually slows the process, and that using a low temperature oven (e.g. a dehydrator with low airflow), helps the salt to dissolve into, and to saturate, the juice faster. –  sampablokuper Apr 12 '11 at 19:07
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