I always have an abundance of lemons in the house but even more so at this time of year. It’s bitterly cold in our old Victorian house and we already have the odd sniffle here and there so a hot toddy with lemon or a squirt in hot water with some ginger is the perfect tonic for every day let alone ‘fast days’ or ‘detox weeks’. The theory behind mixing lemon juice with hot water is that it helps with the symptoms of heartburn and indigestion. I must confess some truth in this as I received this often as a child and during pregnancy from my mother who was never keen on ‘Western’ medicine. Many health experts and ayurvedics believe that drinking lemon water regularly helps your body get rid of waste more efficiently.
More than just good for your health
Aside from their healing properties I find the sight of them simply cheers me up. A bright bowl of lemons strategically placed in that dark corner will surely put you in a cheerful and inspiring mood?
However since my trip to Morocco last summer I have been rather obsessed with preserved lemons. In the souks there you can find stalls selling them at varying stages of fermentation or even buy just one if you prefer. Ask for them by their Moroccan name ‘L’hamd marakad’ which I find simply beautiful in translation which as ‘sleeping lemons’.
In England I’ve never found them for sale and to be honest they are so easy and quick to make I don’t think I’d be happy to pay anyway. I have two more left from my last batch and so have rustled up another jar to sit pretty on my shelf and ‘sleep’ over the next few months. Instant cheer knowing the flavours it will bring.
Not just for tagines
I’ve enjoyed experimenting with preserved lemons in everyday cooking. Of course I’ve used them as part of my tagines but they work wonderfully well in dhals, soups and salads to add a mellower sourness. Most of all I love them with cheese. When I get late night munchies there is nothing better than some parchment bread, Brie and a few slivers of preserved lemon.
I have also made a jar of Feta in Charmoulla for such occasions. Spread a layer of this over a slice of toasted, buttered sourdough or mash it into a hot, fluffy baked potato and top with diced tomatoes. Or perhaps stir into couscous or rice and top with a fillet of salmon or mackerel. I find it’s perfect for reliving the sunshine and smells of the souk.