Making lemon preserves is a method of preparing and storing lemons. This is generally done so excess lemons do not go bad, and so lemons can be eaten during the off season. Lemon preserves come in a few different forms, and they have different types of flavors, depending on the preparation and intent for their use. They can be made by curing lemons in salt, or by cooking the lemons in a sugary mixture. Normally, this food is stored in a glass container like a mason jar.
A popular Moroccan method for making preserved lemons involves curing whole or sliced lemons in salt and olive oil. These lemon preserves are made by briefly boiling the lemons whole in water then packing them into a mason jar with salt and their own lemon juice. After they are cured for five days, oil is added to the jar, which is sealed and chilled in the refrigerator. Before the oil is added, the curing jar should be shaken daily. These preserves are usually served with vegetable dishes and can be stored cold for about a year.
Another way to preserve lemons is to make a sweet, jelly-like form of lemon preserves. The most popular type of sweet lemon preserves is lemon marmalade. Sweet lemon marmalade preserves can also be prepared with other types of fruit, like blueberries, cherries, or pomegranate, to create a blended flavor. These sweet preserves are made by cooking thinly sliced lemon wedges in sugar and water until the mixture takes on a chunky and syrupy texture.
Once it has reduced to the right texture, the hot mixture is placed in mason jars, which take a boiling water bath in the oven to further cook the preserves. This is done both to get the right texture out of the marmalade and to reduce the chance of any bacterial contaminants that could ruin the lemon preserves. The jars are then sealed and cooled. Once cooled, the sweet preserves congeal into the chunky, spreadable gel.
When making lemon preserves, or preserves of any type, it is important to sanitize each glass container by boiling the whole container, including the top, for about 15 minutes. For best results, this should happen just prior to filling it with preserves. Failing to properly sanitize a jar can allow undesirable and dangerous organisms to grow in the sealed jar.