Lemon Preserve – How to preserve lemons to make them last for more than a year? “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade” happens to be the proverbial phrase. But you get to be more clever and preserve them so that you get to make lemon pickle whenever you want.
Though we get lemons all around the year now-a-days, during the peak season time, if you happen to have a plant in your backyard, you will be bombarded with a load of lemons that you will feel overwhelmed about what to do with all of them.
That’s why preserving them makes sense and what’s more exciting is that, after you make the pickle out of this lemon preserve, you do not even have to wait for a week before you start using it. Just let it sit overnight or for a day and you can start using the pickles.
My maternal grandmother had 2 big lemon tress in her backyard and I’ve yet to see a plant that bears as many lemons as hers did. She will distribute to all her neighbours and relatives who stop by and we all used to make lemon juice and drink it on a daily basis as though its water but still there would always be more left out.
One of her favorite way of using up the lemons is to preserve them. Also hers were the times when there were no refrigerators. All she had was 2 big trunks made of solid wood lined with the bottom lined with hay that acted as refrigerator. Those 2 trunks were huge enough to hide 2 grown adults. This is were all her preserves, pickles were stored.
Also those were the times ruled by the 1 kg and 2 kg Horlicks glass bottles that were used for storage. Food grade plastics were unheard of and there was zero confusion and error. She also gave off those small bottles of these preserved lemons to all her relatives.
I remember my paternal grandmother doing the same with “kadarangai” called as “wild lemon” in English. They had a farm with assorted trees of Mango, narthangai (citron) and kadarangai (wild lemon) trees. They usually leased out the trees on a yearly basis and kept just 1 to 2 of each tree for their own purpose.
All the fruits from the trees were preserved, pickled and stored in big glass bottles and stored in the multiple wooden trunks that were kept in the store room. As a kid, I was literally terrified of even entering that room as it was eerie, dark and always cold. We kids were always threatened with being locked up in that room as a disciplinary measure. Nothing but that threat, made us all kids to behave.
But since we now get food grade plastics, I usually store the citrus preserves, in them and store it in the fridge itself. Though they will also stay good for a year when left out on the counter itself, but make sure you keep the container in a dark and cool place when storing at room temperature.
Recently when I went to my native, I got some lemon fruits from my MIL’s lemon bush. As they are organic also, I decided to make this lemon preserve to last me a year as I did not want to waste them by making lemon juice and lemon rice.
Points to note while making Lemon Preserve:
– Choose and pick lemons with thin skin. Also the outer skin needs to free of dark spots and blemish free.
– Do not discard the juice you get while chopping the lemons. They themselves act as preservative.
– Use a sterilised glass bottle or food grade plastic container to store the lemons. Avoid any type of metallic containers.
– Always use a clean, dry spoon while taking out for your requirement.
– You can follow the same process to preserve “kadarangai” also.
I love lemon pickle more than mango pickle. But I don’t like buying them from shops as they are so high on preservatives. If you make them in bulk at home, the lemon pickle tends to become dark after a few days due to the oxidisation process. So I like to take only a few pieces of this lemon preserve and make pickle as and when I want so that the color stays intact.
Lemon Preserve to last for a year:
- Lemons - 10
- Water - 3 to 4 cups
- Wash lemons and spread it on a clean cloth to dry or wipe it out completely.
- In a deep sauce pan, bring water to a rolling boil. The water should be bubbling hot.
- Take the off the stove and drop the whole lemons into the water.
- Close the pan tightly with a lid. Leave it undisturbed for 10 hours or overnight.
- The lemons would have softened completely and will be totally soft to the touch.
- Tip the entire contents into a colander and drain the water completely.
- No need to dry the lemons. Place the lemons on a plate to collect the juices.
- Quarter the lemons by cutting each lemon into half and further cut each half into a half.
- Tip the chopped lemons along with the juices into a sterilised glass bottle or a food grade plastic container.
- Close tightly with the lid and paste a piece of paper on the container mentioning the bottling date.
- Keep this lemon preserve jar in a cool, dark place when storing at room temperature or place it in the refrigerator.
- The lemons preserved like this stays good for more than 1 year.