If you’ve been experimenting with fermentation, you already know that lacto-fermented vegetables are delicious and have the bonus of living, beneficial microbes. Did you know that you can also lacto-ferment fruit? My favourite fruit to culture is citrus. The lacto-fermentation process really adds a tangy flavour and probiotic zing to the citrus zest! You can use any citrus, and today I chose lemons. Culturing lemons adds an extra salty, tangy flavour dimension to the unique sweet tartness that we love from this sunny, healthy fruit. The winters here in Quebec are so long and snowy that any ray of sunshine and vitamin C is much appreciated.
The below recipe is based on the traditional Moroccan method of preserving lemons and will keep indefinitely (I’ve had mine in the fridge for over a year). To use, rinse off the preserved lemon and use slices of the fruit or rind. Traditionally used in tagines in Morocco, these cultured lemons can replace fresh lemons in any dish and really kick up a cocktail as a garnish!
LACTO-FERMENTED LEMONS (MOROCCAN-STYLE)
Fermentation time: 1 month
- Meyer Lemons (preferably organic)- regular lemons can also be used
- Salt (non-iodized)- kosher, sea salt, or Himalayan
- Sterilized jar
- Sprinkle 1 tsp of salt into sanitized jar.
- Wash and dry lemons. Cut each lemon into quarters, stopping approx.1/4″ from the bottom
- Pack 2 tsp salt in each lemon. Pack the lemons in the jar until it is full, pushing down after each addition to release the juices.
- Lid the jar and place it at room temperature, out of direct sunlight for 5-6 days. During this time, the salt will draw the liquid out of the lemons creating a brine, which will help cover the fruit. If the lemons are not completely covered by liquid after 6 days, add freshly-squeezed lemon juice and leave to lemons to ferment at room temperature.
5. After one month, your lacto-fermented lemons are ready! Transfer the jar to the fridge to decelerate the fermentation process. The lemons will continue to soften over time in the brine. You can also use this brine in recipes as it is now infused with the sweetness and saltiness of the lemons. I think I might try it in my next cocktail!