How to turn spent lemon halves into preserved lemon rind – recipe

<span>Tom Hunt’s preserved lemon rinds.</span><span>Photograph: Tom Hunt/The Guardian</span>
Tom Hunt’s preserved lemon rinds.Photograph: Tom Hunt/The Guardian

After all of 12 years, our restaurant Poco in Bristol is closing its doors this spring. We decided very early on to be a zero-waste operation and instigated a closed-loop system that omitted any non-recyclable items from our entire food chain. It was surprisingly easy, too. The first packaging we got rid of was the cellophane wrapping from cucumbers simply by buying them from a different producer. We then set about reducing our compost and recycling further by working closely with suppliers and by cooking from root-to-fruit, using whole seasonal ingredients; I’ve even been known to dig through the compost in search of ingredients that would otherwise go to waste. Our first big win was spent lemon peel, which we turned both into marmalade and this twist on traditional preserved lemons.

Preserved lemon rinds

Traditional preserved lemons are made by packing whole or quartered lemons in lots of sea salt and covering them with fresh lemon juice. However, many cooks regard the preserved lemon flesh as far too salty, so all too often cut it off and throw it away. This way of preserving lemon rinds cuts out that wastealtogether. After juicing lemons, I keep the spent husks in the fridge or freezer until I have enough to fill a jar, then preserve them in brine. The flavour is just as intense and delicious as traditional preserved lemon.

As with all ferments, filtered water works best here, because chlorine can affect fermentation by inhibiting the good bacteria. If need be, leave tap water to sit in an open container for 24 hours to allow the chlorine to evaporate. As always, use organic unwaxed lemon husks to avoid excessive fungicides and synthetic pesticides.

1 glass jar with a tight lid
Organic unwaxed lemon husks
Sea salt

Put your jar of choice on the scales and set the weight to zero. Add the lemon husks, cover them with water and note the weight of the filled jar. To calculate how much salt you need to add to make a 2% brine, multiply this weight by two, then divide by 100 (for example, if the lemon husks and water weigh 1kg, 2% will be 20g of sea salt. Add the required amount of salt, seal the jar and shake to dissolve. Loosen the lid a little, then leave out on a counter and out of direct sunlight for at least a week, shaking it occasionally. Seal, refrigerate for at least three weeks and you’re good to go. The preserved rinds should now keep for at least a month.