Trader Joe’s Preserved Tunisian Lemon SlicesPosted: February 12, 2015 Filed under: Condiments, Fruit | Tags: 3 stars, garnish, lemon, preserved lemon, preserves, Trader Joe's 24 Comments
Trader Joe’s preserved lemons are unlike any other sort of lemon you may have tried before. People do lots of weird things to produce that they store in jars. Sometimes they’re pickling it, sometimes they’re making it sweet, sometimes they’re just packing it in tons and tons of oil. Whatever it is, it’s always impossible to tell what you’re going to get until you actually pop the jar open and give it a try. In this case, I was surprised to find that what they were doing was making the lemons less sour. The lemons in TJ’s Preserved Tunisian Lemon Slices contain all the flavor of that famous yellow citrus fruit, but none of the acidity or sourness. The result is a slightly unnerving but intriguing food experience.
I was really, really not expecting this. Frankly I didn’t even know it was possible to unsour lemons. Really, I didn’t know what expect when I picked these up – and Trader Joe’s was not in a helpful mood when they created the packaging. Search the jar and you’ll find no description of what to use these lemons for, or how they might taste. The one clue that TJ’s sort of lets on to is when they casually mention “Be sure to rinse under water – unless you really like salt.” That might lead you to believe these lemons will be salty. And while yes, indeed, the brine they’re packed in is very salty, that salinity doesn’t make its way into the taste of the lemons. The only reason the lemon slices are soaking in a salt bath is because salt draws out and neutralizes the bitterness of the lemon peel and acidity of the lemon juice.
The result is lemon slices that taste and look like lemons, but don’t make you pucker or wince. If you’ve never had them, it may hard to imagine what non-sour lemons taste like. Basically, they taste like lemon-sceneted dish soap smells. While that is a strange little thing to deal with, mentally, it’s not the only slightly off-putting part of these preserved lemons. As a necessary part of the preserving process, these lemons are saturated, soaked and soggy. Washing them off and patting them dry is about all the strain they can take without falling apart on you. You’ll have no trouble slicing through the rind of these lemons with the edge of a plastic spoon.
So what are you to do with a jar of un-lemonafied lemon slices? The answer is, pretty much anything. The best way to think of these preserved lemons is as a solid slices of lemon juice. Adding a slice, either diced or whole, gives a refreshing zest to any dish. The real boon here is that you can’t over load on these. With the face puckering sourness of the lemon nullified all you’re really adding is a burst of citrus flavor. The classic way to use preserved lemon is in a Moroccan tagine soup, but they really dress up any dish that would benefit from a touch of lemon zest. Dice it up and mix it in a salad, add a slice to a sandwich, or serve as a garnish for roasted chicken. If the somewhat unnatural texture and taste of the lemons doesn’t bother you, they’re an easy and interesting way to dress up almost any dish.
Would I Recommend Them: Yes – these have all the perks of lemons without any of the downside.
Would I Buy Them Again: One jar should last me a long time, but I’d consider it.
Final Synopsis: All of the flavor of a lemon without the acid.
The preserved lemons were the worst thing I have ever tasted. Somewhere between Vick’s Vapor Rub and turpentine. Would never recommend these. I can’t believe that Trader Joe’s would have ever considered carrying these awful things.
Same! I nearly gagged after eating one. Never again
FYI these aren’t for snacking on. I’m willing to bet you dont eat fresh lemons whole either. Would you eat a whole onion?
OTOH, I eat slices straight out of the jar. I’ve always loved lemons and salt. If you like that taste, these are PERFECT. I go through a jar in less than a week.
These are the list to try. My ex was Moroccan so I know what to do with them just didn’t think about TJ’s having them.
These are best in cooked dishes and are excellent in both a lamb and a chicken tagine recipe I’ve made. These save me the hassle of preserving lemons myself. Hope to try them next with steamed calamari. Thank you TJs!
I think these taste like Lemon Pledge, but I am willing to try them in the tangine.
Yes, they definitely taste like cleaning product smells. It’s a real hurdle to deal with.
[…] ready! Patience is a virtue…), but if you don’t want to wait you can easily buy them at Trader Joe’s. For those who want to venture into the fun, here is how you can make your own preserved […]
I got hooked on them and now my local TJ’s doesn’t carry them. I really liked them chopped up in a salad, on top of grilled meat, or chopped up w. pasta w olive oil & parmesan. Do reduce salt in the rest of your recipe.
I LOVE THEM!!! I’d been buying the marinated whole lemons @ Whole Foods(which are way more expensive & not as nicely spiced). Once I found these @ TJ’S…I was hooked. My only problem is they are a seasonal item & I can’t get them year-round. I use them in almost everything in different ways. They’re great on anything Mediterranian/Italian/Asian. they’re also great grilled & then added to the top of any meat or fish.
TRADER JOE’S PLEASE BRING THEM BACK FULL TIME???
Tried these last night, they were really good. I don’t rinse them, but I used them in recipes and on other foods. Excellent.
The salt doesn’t neutralize acidity (which is where the sourness comes from, they’re not separate traits), the variety of lemons used is, however, different from what Americans are used to eating as “lemons.” They don’t use the Eurekas and/or Lisbons which are basically the only (true) lemon varieties you find in commerce in the United States. (We of course also have Meyer lemons, but those are hybrids with mandarines, oranges or similar citrus relatives), not “true” lemons.)
We loved them, especially in a chicken recipe of my husband’s. Sadly, our local Trader Joe’s doesn’t carry them any more. Please bring them back!
[…] Note*** If you don’t have access to preserved lemons, you can either make your own, or use a little lemon zest instead. This time I used Trader Joe’s brand preserved lemons. […]
I’m infusing some vodka with them. Should be interesting.
I’m crazy about these preserved lemons and they’re amazing in Fish Tagine, a wonderful Moroccan dish. Here is a great recipe I’ve used a couple of times: http://www.redactedrecipes.com/2006/07/fish_tagine.html
I’m very sad they have discontinued them!!!! Is there any other place I can get them?
Please where can I buy them Agoura store is out
I am, also sad that they have been discontinued. There are two Trader Joe stores in my area and both stores were totally out. I would have bought all they had, but unfortunately there were none at either store.
Please, please bring back the preserved lemons. Was perfect in the Moroccan Chickpeas with Chard dish.
Please, bring back the preserved lemon, I was using them a lot in my cooking !
Very easy to make yourself a jarful. Internet has loads of recipes, easy peasy
Better to buy jars where they are in wedges rather than slices