Preserved Lemons

I think I’ve mentioned a couple times now how many lemons I harvested.  That, and people keep giving me grocery bags of citrus.  Right now, I have two bags of grapefruit, a bag of pommelos, a bag of oranges, a bag of lemons, and a bag of tangelos sitting on my counter.  I hate to see food (especially produce) go to waste.  So when people offer it up, I always bring it home.  The tricky part is making sure it all gets used before it goes bad.

When I first looked in to a way of making citrus last longer, I came across Preserved Lemons.  I had never heard of them.  I guess they are huge in Morocco and some other middle eastern/north African dishes.  Preserved Lemons used one of the oldest preservation methods around.  Salt.


Preserved Lemons:

  • Lemons
  • Salt
  • Mason jars

Select your lemons.  I find the smaller ones are great for this.  Wash the exterior.

Cut each lemon down from the top, but not all the way through.  Then make a 2nd perpendicular cut, again, not all the way through.

Hold the lemon, slice side up, in the palm of your hand.  Use your fingers to open the cuts slightly.  then pour Kosher salt into the lemon.  Use your hand to hold the salt int he cuts of the lemon.  This is a good time to find all the cuts, nicks, hangnails, and splinters that are in your hand.

Then jam, and I mean JAM the lemons into your mason jar.  Really push em down in there. The juice will start to come out, as you push, and as the salt draws it out.  That’s good.  Keep slicing, salting, and pushing your lemons into the jar.  You need the lemon juice to cover the top of the last lemon you can possibly squeeze in there.  You may need to pour some juice off, or add some. (I had to pour some off).  Just pack those little guys in there until you can.  See the first pic up top?  That’s what it should look like.

Close the jar, and put it in a cool place.  I used one of my cupboards.  Flip it on its lid after the first day.  Then back right side up.  Continue flipping every day for a week.  After one week, move it to the fridge.  Continue to flip for another week.  Now you can start using them.

These guys are salt magnets.  I couldn’t imagine eating them the way they are.  From what I’ve learned, you cut the flesh out of the lemon and discard it.  These are not for sweet dessert recipes that call for zest.  Only savory dishes.

Using a sharp knife, slice off as much of the pith as you can.  This leaves you a very flavorful rind.  I swear the preserved zest is even lemonnier than regular zest.  Rinse off the rind to get rid of any residual salt.

These lemons should last a lifetime.  It’s a great way to extend some of your citrus harvest, to have that great lemony flavor in the off-season without buying imported, pesticide laden, lemons.  There are a ton of recipes out there that call for preserved lemons.  Give the old google machine a try and taste some new flavors a try.

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12 Responses to “Preserved Lemons”


  1. 1 lynn March 5, 2010 at 1:31 pm

    I’m intrigued by these preserved lemons. Thanks for giving some insight in how you’d use them :) We have a Meyer lemon tree and I have had a grand time the last couple of years making homemade lemonades, lemon salad dressings, lemon baked goods, etc. etc. I think my favorite has been lemon curd.

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