It is common knowledge in health circles that we need to eat cultured foods to stay healthy. These Moroccan Preserved Lemons will inspire you!
In days past, before refrigeration was invented, lacto-fermentation was the method used to preserve food. Lactic acid is a natural preservative that inhibits putrefying bacteria. With our modern conveniences, we have forgotten the wisdom of lactic acid fermentation and the many benefits to our health. However, with proper instruction you will feel confident in preserving all kinds of foods!
With all the current research into the microbiome, you may have already heard that we are actually 10% human cells and 90% microbial cells! We have already developed our gut bacteria by age 3. However, in order to maintain a healthy gut, we need to consistently add bacteria.
Humans reaped the benefits of this method of preservation by eating these foods and hosting the good bacteria. Eating these naturally preserved foods aids the human digestive system in many ways. First and foremost, we are able to maintain large populations of beneficial bacteria in our gut simply by eating cultured foods. Most people who do this, will not require a probiotic supplement.
The beneficial bacteria, yeasts, fungi, viruses and even worms that inhabit our intestines are old friends. They are supposed to live there, having evolved inside of us over hundreds of thousands of years. Having large populations of these bacteria help to crowd out the pathogenic bacteria that also live there.
Beneficial lacto-bacteria help us digest our food, they create vitamins and enzyme co-factors and many other substances in our bodies that are critical for good gut health and good health in general.
Over the course of the past hundred years, with urbanization, better sanitation, refrigeration and better living conditions, we have become more sterilized. Conventional attitudes have a firm belief in the germ theory and medicine quickly responds to the slightest sniffle with an antibiotic. We have done a good job in killing off potential pathogens, but also our beneficial bacteria as well.
Additionally, with the advent of refrigeration it was no longer necessary to ferment foods in order to preserve them. However, the symbiotic nature of our relationship with our microbiome is not taken into account and most of us are depleted and out of balance, because we do not have the volume of beneficial bacteria we need.
The best way to reinoculate ourselves with beneficial bacteria is to eat cultured foods. There are so many to learn how to make at home! From the most common yogurt to more esoteric brining of vegetables, salsa, chutneys and condiments — most foods can be fermented — their shelf life lengthened without chemical preservatives, and most importantly, the beneficial bacteria is created.
Jenny, from Nourished Kitchen visited a Moroccan family and learned how to do this the way it has been done, traditionally for generations. She has been kind enough to share this video and recipe from her class Get Cultured! This is just one of over 50 videos from her outstanding class.
Yield: 1/2 gallon
Prep: 10 minutes
Preserved lemon is a traditional North African condiment where its sour and salty flavor adds a distinct flavor to classic tagines, roast chickens and other meals.
2 1/2 pounds lemons (preferably Meyer lemons)
1/4 cup unrefined sea salt
Trim the ends off lemons, taking care not to cut into the flesh, then slice the lemons as if to quarter them – keeping the base of the lemon intact.
Sprinkle the interior of the lemons with unrefined sea salt then layer in your mason jar, crock or fermentation device. Sprinkle with unrefined sea salt then mash with a wooden spoon or dowel until the rinds of the lemon begin to soften and the lemons release their juice which should combine with the salt to create a brine conducive to the proliferation of beneficial bacteria.
Continue mashing, salting and mashing until your lemons fill the jar and rest below the level of the brine.
Ferment at room temperature for three to four weeks. Lemons can be kept for one to two years.