Preserved Meyer Lemon Collins

Preserving Meyer lemons is a fantastic way to lengthen the season on these sweet, thin-skinned gems. I suggest preserving lemons to have in your cold pantry as a staple. They are delicious chopped as a relish for grilled fish, pureed in a vinaigrette for salad, or mixed into mayonnaise for sandwiches. The salty acidity they contribute to this cocktail-a riff on the classic Tom Collins-is a perfect match to the floral notes pf the gin, and the rosemary garnish provides a pleasant, herbaceous accent. It's a refreshing way to begin an early-spring meal. 

Preserved Meyer Lemons

Makes 5 Preserved lemons

If you do not have a cool room in your house to store the lemons while they are fermenting, then place on the top shelf of your refrigerator.

5 Meyer lemons

1/2 cup kosher salt

1/2 cup granulated sugar

Clean the outside of each lemon well under warm water. Quarter the lemons, from top to bottom, almost all the way through, leaving them connected to the bottom. Sprinkle the exposed flesh liberally with 1/4 cup of the salt and 1/4 cup of the sugar and reshape.
Cover the bottom of a sterilized glass quart jar with a sprinkle of salt. Place the lemons in the jar (they should fit snuggly), sprinkling liberally with salt and sugar between each lemon. Top with the remaining salt and sugar between each lemon. Top with the remaining salt and sugar and seal the jar. Store in a dark cabinet at cool room temperature, gently agitating the jar daily, for 30 days. At this point the lemons are ready for use, or you may store them in the refrigerator, where they will keep for at least a couple of months. 

Preserved Meyer Lemons (recipe follows)

Fresh rosemary sprigs

Simple Syrup

Gin (preferably Oxley dry gin)

Club soda

For each cocktail, muddle 1/2 preserved lemon with 1 sprig rosemary and 1 ounce simple syrup in a cocktail glass. Add 2 ounces gin and ice and stir with a cocktail spoon. There is no need to shake. Strain into a tall glass with fresh ice, garnish with rosemary, and top with a splash of club soda.