This ferment is a true classic. In fact, fermented lemons are probably the most commonly fermented fruit in the world, I would like to think. And with good reason: The preservation process changes the taste and consistency in the most delicious way. Sharp acidity becomes mild freshness, bitterness becomes subtly tart, and the zest melts delicately on the tongue when eaten. Just two ingredients and a few minutes of time is all you need to make your own fermented lemons.
With salt lemons, by the way, the focus is not on the flesh, but on the zest and the brine, which becomes gelatinous after some time. This is due to the high pectin content, so it behaves like jam. Because the zest is also consumed, it is particularly important with this ferment that you use untreated lemons in organic quality. Which salt to use you can decide yourself. I like coarse salt because it makes filling the lemons easier. Fine salt would dissolve more quickly, which can also be good. Feel free to decide according to your own preference.
Fermented lemons are characteristic of Moroccan cuisine
Die in Salz und ihrem eigenen Saft eingelegten Zitronen sind eine Spezialität und eine tragende Zutat der marokkanischen Landesküche, weswegen sie neben Salzzitronen auch häufig marokkanische Zitronen genannt werden. In Marokko verwendet man nur die Zutaten Salz und Zitronen. Traditionell werden keine Gewürze wie Zimt, Lorbeerblätter oder andere Kräuter benutzt. Diese Variationen entstanden, als dieses Ferment begann, sich zu verbreiten und Einzug in andere Küchen fand.
- 1 750 ml bail jar
- 6-7 organic lemons
- 1 lemon [juice]
- 6-7 tsp salt [preferrably coarse rock salt, 9-10% from the weight of the lemons]
- A remark beforehand: How many lemons you actually need depends on their size and the size of your fermentation vessel. It's better to buy more, because they lose volume during fermentation, than to have too few and not fill your vessel. Because, as you know, fermentation is anaerobic, so the space between the brine and the lid should be as small as possible!
- Wipe the lemons thoroughly with a damp cloth and cut off the end with the stem without cutting into the flesh. Then cut lengthwise diagonally almost to the end, but do not cut all the way through. The quarters should still be attached to each other.
- Fill each lemon with a teaspoon of salt. For lactofermentation to take place, the total amount of salt must not exceed 10%. Therefore, I weigh the salt before I continue the process and use only as much as I then have available. To fill the jar, hold the salt over the glass and it will fall into the right place if something goes astray. When all the lemons are in the jar and there is still salt left, sprinkle on top of the lemons.
- Firmly press down on the lemons in the bail jar. I do this by hand or with a wooden pestle. Juice is supposed to come out, and it doesn't matter if the quarters partially separate. Squeeze the remaining lemon and add the juice.
- With this ferment it does not matter if not everything is covered by brine at this point, because the liquid level will still rise. Close the jar, open the next day and press the lemons well again into the jar. If necessary, repeat 1-2 times until the brine is above the lemons.
- Seal. If a few lemons come up and peek over the brine, either use a weight or swirl daily until the fermentation process begins. I recommend the latter technique to experienced fermentistas.
- Let lemons ferment at room temperature for at least 42 days. They will keep for several years even outside the refrigerator, if always removed with clean cutlery.
Cooking with fermented lemons
In North African cuisine, fermented lemons are used as a seasoning for stews and tahini. To flavor butter, as a tangy ingredient in cocktails or a surprising touch to pasta or risotto, even outside of Moroccan cuisine there are many possibilities for use, because you can use both the fruit and the brine. Wonderful dressings, creamy sauces or soups get a unique taste with this magic ingredient.
Before eating, you can rinse the lemons. The pulp is traditionally removed and the peel cut into fine strips or cubes. I don't like to throw anything away and like to eat the pulp along with it. After a few months, anyway, the whole ferment is so jellified that you can't tell a disturbing difference between pulp and brine.