Why Alton Brown Uses Preserved Lemons To Make Lemonade

When life gives you lemons, you preserve them and then make lemonade. At least that's what "Good Eats" host Alton Brown does. His surprising ways to elevate ordinary dishes never goes unnoticed, and now he's incorporating preserved lemons into a summertime favorite. To preserve is to salt. We as humans crave salt because it's actually necessary in our diets, according to the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa. It helps us taste our food, tenderize meats, and can be used in so many more surprising ways

Techniques for preserving lemons date back hundreds of years to when lemon trees from Morocco to India produced an abundance of the fruit; so much so that people had to find a way to store all of them (via Belazu Ingredient Co.). When they found that salt would draw the moisture out of the fruit, concentrate the flavor, and leave little chance for bacteria to grow, preserving lemons was born and incorporated into Middle Eastern and Asian cuisines. Now it's coming in handy as a secret ingredient for Alton Brown's stellar lemonade.

How to preserve lemons

Who knew that lemonade could get any better? Whether it's store-bought or homemade, you can bet that tart and sweet are two words to best describe the summery beverage. With the addition of preserved lemons, you have that extra zing of saltiness that balances out the sweet. Brown has his own recipe for preserving lemons, so let's break it down.

Brown's technique for lemon preservation utilizes the whole citrus fruit, yielding more flavor (per Brown's preserved lemons-ade recipe). Slice lemons into wedges and place in a mason jar big enough to fit. Layer with plenty of salt and top with lemon juice. The jar should chill in the fridge for about four days (per Brown's recipe to preserve lemons). After that, flip it to distribute the juices once more and wait another four days. 

The end product should be tender lemon wedges with acidic, salty flavor. While you may not want to snack on them alone, small amounts in a dish or a drink can really elevate flavor. According to Brown's preserved lemons-ade recipe, he simmers them into a simple syrup, adds lemon juice, and lets it cool before pouring it over ice in a pitcher with soda water for extra fizz. This genius addition infuses every step with lemon-goodness. Brown also recommends try it with a splash of vodka for an adult-friendly version.