Sharpe Preserved Lemon


Pale lemon.

One of my friends has spent a lot of time in the Middle East and North Africa, where preserved lemons are de rigueur, and she was tickled when I told her I had made preserved lemons. I did it because I had too many lemons on hand and it seemed like a fun project. I haven’t had the chance to use them in cooking, but of course I wanted to see how it work in ice cream.

Preserved lemons have a bit more umami than regular lemons, so it’s a different flavor profile than a standard lemon ice cream. The recipe I used had peppercorns and bay leaves as well. Also unlike, a regular lemon ice cream, this has a salty tinge that, when combined with the lemon and other notes, is delightfully unusual and unclassifiable. Much like Ms. Sharpe herself.


In its raw form.

Sharpe Preserved Lemon

2 cups cream

2 cups milk

half of 1 preserved lemon (peel only, remove as much pulp as possible)

½ cup sugar

3 egg yolks


If you don’t have a preserved lemon on hand or don’t want to buy it, substitute the zest of a lemon and a tablespoon of lemon juice, and add a bay leaf and five peppercorns. Remove the bay leaf before adding the egg mixture.


Chop lemon peel into matchstick width strips. Whisk to combine cream, 1 cup milk, sugar in a medium pot, and add the lemon peel. Heat over medium heat for a few minutes, but do not let it boil. Once the mixture is hot, remove from heat and cover for thirty minutes.

Whisk three egg yolks in a medium bowl. It’s OK if there are some traces of egg white — no need to be a perfectionist — but try to minimize that. Pour the remaining cup of milk into a large bowl, then place a strainer above it.

Reheat the dairy mixture. Once the mixture is warm, slowly ladle about a cup into the egg yolks, whisking with one hand while ladling with the other to temper the yolks.

Once complete, transfer the yolk mixture to the pot, and then return to medium heat. Stir the mixture with a rubber spatula, scraping the bottom at times. Once the custard is thick enough to slightly coat the back of the spatula (another sign: you will start to notice that scraping the bottom of the pot encounters some solid residue), remove from heat and pour through the strainer into the bowl. The lemon peels will strain out, which is intentional.

Place the bowl in an ice bath to cool for thirty minutes (if you’re too lazy, it’s ok to just do this on the counter). Then, cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a lid and refrigerate for at least two hours before churning. Churn according to manufacturer’s instructions, then freeze for eight hours.

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