How to Preserve Lemons or limes

Preserved lemons (or limes!) in salt is one of my favorite canning projects because it is EASY. All you need is some fruit, kosher salt, and a clean jar - well, some time too if you count that as an ingredient. I was the lucky recipient of a box of Rangpur limes - one of my favorite esoteric citrus fruits - from Shae who I bonded with years ago over our love of fruit and preserving. So, long story short I preserved a couple of jars of them in salt which I will use in savory (and sweet!) dishes all year long. I just love their sour funky flavor and their gorgeous color!

It's a beautiful process and I teamed up with Pete again who made this incredible video (including the music that I just LOVE). I hope you like it, and I always say this, but more to come!


Preserved Lemons or Limes

Making preserved lemons is one of my favorite winter canning projects and is one of the easiest too. It is really more a formula than a specific recipe so feel free to scale these amounts up or down depending on how much use you think you’ll get out of them. Meyer lemons are wonderful preserved because of their thin skin and small amount of white pith, but regular lemons are great too.

1 quart sized canning jar and lid or 2 pint jars

8-10 organic lemons, well scrubbed

kosher salt

Slice off the stem end and bottom of each lemon (only if they have big nubs). Stand the lemons up and, cut an “X” into each lemon, stopping about 1/2-inch from the bottom so all four quarters are still connected at the base. Hold each lemon open with your fingertips and sprinkle salt on the inside and outside of each one.

Cover the bottom of the jar with a thin layer of salt and place each lemon in the jar, pressing  to release the juices. Fill the jar with the lemons, leaving about 1-inch of headspace. If the lemons are not completely submerged in juice, top the jar off with additional lemon juice until they are covered. Sprinkle salt on the top of the jar, screw on the lid and give the whole thing a shake.

Let the jar sit at room temperature for three days, turning the jar each day to distribute the salt and juices. After three days, store the jar in the refrigerator, making sure to turn it every couple of days. The lemons are ready when their rinds are very soft, about 3 weeks. To cook with the lemons, remove them from the jar and rinse with cool water. Remove and discard the pulp and seeds and chop the rind. They’ll keep in the fridge, submerged in juice, for one year. 

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Methley Plum Jam

Methley Plum Jam
Methley Plum Jam

I bought these plums on a rainy day whim when there was a whole table full them marked $1 per quart,  which was a steal of a deal that I just couldn't pass up. So with very little hesitation, I walked up to the table and handed over a few dollars for three rain-soaked quarts of tiny, ripe plums and asked asked the fellas working the stand why they were so inexpensive. One guy claimed that they just had a lot of that particular variety and needed to sell them. Then the other piped in and said, "Let's be real, it's about to pour down rain and we want to get out of here." I laughed and told them I didn't mind either way because I was going to make jam from the whole lot.

This recipe for plum jam is very simple (like most of the jams I prefer), but for a more spiced up version check out this post to see how I made my plum jam last year: Spiced Plum Jam with Vanilla Bean. I made that jam with Italian prune plums which are a freestone variety available later in the season.

Methley Plum Jam

yield, 4-5 half pints

I had never eaten a Methley plum before this impulse buy and while they taste great, they have one huge drawback. They are clingstone plums, which means that they are a pain in the butt to pit and when they are small, ripe and soft like the batch I had, they are nearly impossible to use without making a mess. So, I just got down to it with my hands. I tore the fruit in half over a large bowl and used my fingers to squeeze as much fruit from the pits as possible. It wasn't glamorous, but it worked just fine. If you are working with larger, less ripe plums you can cut them in quarters and pull the wedges of plum from the pits.

Update 8/8: Sean of Punk Domestics fame just informed me that you can cut clingstone plums (and probably other clingstone fruit) down to the pits, macerate them overnight (pits and all) in sugar (and spices if using) and the pits will loosen up on their own. Handy!

3 pounds Methley Plums or other small sugar plums

28 ounces sugar

1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped (optional)

1 lemon, juice squeezed and rinds reserved.

1. Wash, pit, and chop the plums if necessary. Add them to a large bowl with the sugar, vanilla bean seeds and pod (if using), and lemon juice and squeezed rind. Stir to combine, cover and refrigerate over night or up to 2 days.

2. When you are ready to cook the jam, prepare 4 or 5 half pint jars by washing and sterilizing them.

Pour the jam mixture in to non-reactive pot and remove the lemon rind.

2. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium high heat, stirring occasionally. As the jam comes to a boil, skim the foam that rises to the top of the pot and discard.

3. Raise the heat to high and boil for 15-25 minutes or until set, being careful not to let the bottom scorch. Begin checking the jam for doneness at about 15 minutes. I generally use the 

to check for doneness with this type of jam, but if you like numbers you can cook it to 220ºF. If you would prefer jam without skin, quickly transfer the cooked mixture to a mesh strainer and force as much as the jam through as possible, discard the skins and proceed with canning.

4.  Remove the vanilla bean pod and save for another use, then pour the jam into sterilized jars, then process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

Methley Plum Jam