To eat, or not to eat - preserved lemon version
February 9, 2021 8:09 PM   Subscribe

The jar of preserved lemons I bought today (curbside pickup) has a strong dent in the edge of the lid. The lid was very slightly bowed up (not swollen, but clearly not sealed) and there was no "pop" when I opened it. The jar says "refrigerate after opening", that absolutely necessary? I mean, they're "preserved", right?

I have no idea how long the jar was dented. It's possible it happened in the bag today, since the lemons were stuffed in with a whole bunch of canned goods, but it's also possible it happened six months ago in the store, since I doubt this is a high-turnover item. Eat, or toss? My tagine depends on the answer!
posted by LadyOscar to Food & Drink (7 answers total)
Ehhhh usually I'm on team "it's fine, eat it!" But the state of the container tells me you don't know how it's been stored- at least if it's forgotten in you pantry or fridge you know it's been pretty stable.

The bowed up lid and dint trigger the "botulism!!" Alarm bells in my head.

Discard with regret.
posted by freethefeet at 8:35 PM on February 9, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: They will be too acidic to get botulism. If they look fine and smell fine, I’d have no issues with eating it.

I made some preserved lemons years ago that I kept in unrefrigerated, and the top went fuzzy after a few months. I scraped off the fuzzy stuff and have kept them in the fridge ever since, no problem.
posted by kjs4 at 8:44 PM on February 9, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: According to this recipe:

Leave for 3 to 4 days, by which time the lemons will have disgorged some of their juices and the skins will have softened a little. Open the jar and press the lemons down as much as you can, then add fresh lemon juice to cover them entirely.

Close the jar and leave in a cool place for at least a month. The longer they are left, the better the flavor. (If a piece of lemon is not covered, it develops a white mold that is harmless and just needs to be washed off.)

Before using, scoop out and discard the pulp, and rinse the lemon peel under the tap to get rid of the salt.

So yeah, I'm guessing the "refrigerate after opening" is because most people would be put off by white mold, not because it will make you sick.
posted by coffeecat at 8:58 PM on February 9, 2021 [2 favorites]

I just sampled a bit of a preserved lemon, and preserved lemon paste, which I kept unrefrigerated for *checks diary* 5 months. They're both fine (and the bit of whole lemon had been unsubmerged in preserving liquid). Two different brands -- Belazu and If & When.

I'd eat them, doubly so if they're going into something that will be cooked again.
posted by myotahapea at 1:38 AM on February 10, 2021

You are probably fine, except for the white fuzzy mold that can grow to exposed parts. Refrigeration slows but does not stop them.
posted by kschang at 2:50 AM on February 10, 2021

I preserve lemons by cutting them* into quarters, adding salt, stuffing them into a jar, and covering with more lemon juice if they aren't already covered. I would leave them without a lid in the fridge, but then they'd taste like fridge. The first recipe I read for preserving lemons said they taste better after 6 months. Enjoy your lemons.

*Not grocery store lemons. Those are covered in wax.
posted by aniola at 7:45 AM on February 10, 2021

Response by poster: Thanks, everyone! No mold visible, and I will enjoy my lemons.
posted by LadyOscar at 3:58 PM on February 10, 2021 [1 favorite]

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