How to Make Preserved Lemons

Many Moroccan and Middle Eastern recipes utilize preserved lemons. Preserved lemons are essentially pickled in salt and their own acidic juices. This is simple and like so many things, waiting is the hardest part, as it takes at least 3-4 weeks until they are ready to use. Inspired by NPRs Kitchen Window and the lovely color yellow. Looking for other lemon ideas – check out my blog post “When life hands you lemons“….

What do you need:

  • 8-10 Meyer lemons, scrubbed very clean (any lemon will do though, just fine)
  • 1/2 cup kosher salt, more if needed
  • Sterilized quart canning jar (a washed out spaghetti jar will work too)


  • Place 2 Tbsp of salt in the bottom of a sterilized jar.
  • Prepare each of the lemons in the same following way. Cut 1/4 inch off the tip of each lemon. Then cut the lemons as if you were going to cut them in half lengthwise from the top – but do not cut them all the way through, so they are attached at the bottom. Make another cut in the same way to quarter the lemon but still hooked at the bottom.
  • Open the lemons and generously sprinkle salt all over the inside and outside of the fruit.
  • Pack the lemons in the jar. Don’t be a wuss and really squish them down so that juice is squeezed out. Subsequently, the lemon juice fills to the top of the jar. Make sure the top is covered with lemon juice. If you seem to be short, add more squeezed lemon juice to make up the different and a few more table spoons of salt for good measure.
  • Put the lid on the jar and then just let sit at room temperature for a 3-4 days. Invert the jar back and forth occasionally.
  • Put in refrigerator and let it sit quietly, again inverting occasionally, for at least 3 weeks, until the rinds soften.
  • To use, remove a lemon from the jar and rinse thoroughly under tap water to wash off the salt. The use the rind and maybe even pulp as desired.
  • Stores in the refrigerator for up to 6 months.
  • You can add spices to the lemons that match the cuisine style such as full cloves, coriander, whole peppercorns, chilies, cinnamon (sticks), bay leaf.

Dave Lebovitz from Sweet Life in Paris has a similar recipe and a nice roster of uses.

Other preserved lemon ideas:

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