Moroccan Preserved Lemons
10 thin-skinned lemons
1 1/2 cups rock salt
4 1/2 cups boiling water
juice of 1 lemon
8 cardamom pods
2 small red chilis, optional
2 bay leaves
olive oil, to cover
Scrub the lemons well and soak in water for about 3 days, changing the water daily (this disperses the gas and acids contained in the fruit). Remove from the water and cut four pockets end-to-end into each lemon, being careful not to slice right through.
Holding a lemon over a bowl (to catch any juice and salt), fill the pockets generously with rock salt, and arrange in a half-gallon preserving jar. Repeat with remaining lemons.
Cover the lemons with boiling water. Add the leftover salt and juice, lemon juice, and cardamom pods. Chilis and bay leaves may also be added for flavor and decoration, if you like.
Leave the jar for a few minutes to ensure that most of the air bubbles are released. Cover the surface with a thin layer of olive oil. Seal tightly, and store for a least 1 month prior to use.
Correctly preserved lemons can be stored for years.