How to Make Preserved Lemons


Preserved Lemons

Of all the ingredients I make at home, preserved lemons are the most magical. If you haven’t ever used them as an ingredient be prepared to be amazed! The salting process transforms the lemon skin into bits of fragrant, fresh, salty goodness.

This is not the time to be squandering your precious Maldon or other fancy sea salt flakes. Any fine sea salt or kosher salt will do or even cheap table salt.

Because you’re going to be eating the skins, best to use unwaxed and organic lemons if you can. Although I’ve used regular supermarket lemons and they’ve been fine so no need to stress.

takes: 15 minutes + jar washing time + 4 weeks to ‘mature’
makes: 1 jar

3 – 4 thick skinned lemons
extra lemon juice
6 – 8 tablespoons fine sea salt
1-2 bay leaves, optional

1. Sterilize a medium jar (with a good lid or seal) by popping in the dishwasher on the hottest cycle, or using your favourite sterilization method. If I’m short on time I just fill them with boiling water from the kettle and drain.

2. Place the lemons in a strainer and pour boiling water over the lemons to get rid of any dirt or bugs. Drain.

3. Chop a lemon into quarters, lengthwise.

4. Place a tablespoon salt in the bottom of the jar and pack in the lemon quarters, squashing them in to release as much juice as possible. Scatter with another tablespoon salt.

5. Repeat with the other 2 – 3 lemons, until the jar is full. If using the bay leaves, poke them in along the sides of the jar while layering.

6. Finish with a final tablespoon or two of salt. Cover with lemon juice as needed to fill the jar. Seal jar and store at room temperature for 4 weeks before using.

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limes – replace lemons and lemon juice with limes and lime juice.

spiced – add a few teaspoons of cumin seeds and peppercorns.

Usage Suggestions

to use – remove one quarter from the jar. Discard the flesh and finely slice or dice the skins. They’re quite salty so go easy with the seasoning.

in general – use them anywhere you’d normally use lemon zest for a more intense, lemon kick.

in salads – finely chopped and tossed in with your salad dressing for a fragrant surprise.

sauce for fish – combine 2 tablespoons lemon juice with 4 tablespoons olive oil and 1/4 preserved lemon finely chopped.

chicken tajine – toss 1/2 preserved lemon, finely sliced in a chicken stew with tomatoes & olives.

wilted greens – finely slice and toss through greens such as a simple plate of greens.

preserved lemon & yoghurt sauce – finely mince and stir a little into some natural yoghurt – great with fish, chicken or vegetables.

couscous, lentils or rice – finely chop 1/4 lemon and stir through cooked couscous or lentils or steamed rice.

Preserved Lemons Recipes

Prepare Ahead?

Absolutely. Takes about 4 weeks before they’re ready. Although I have rushed it and used them sooner, the texture wasn’t as good.

Storage Best Practices

Store in the glass jar in a dark pantry. Will keep in the pantry unopened for a year but I’ve had a few last twice as long as that when they got lost in the back of the cupboard. Once opened they need to be refrigerated.

Problem Solving Guide

mould growing on the lemons – if the lemons aren’t covered with the salty lemon juice they can get a white mould growing on them. Discard these lemons but the ones on the bottom should be fine.

short on time – soak whole lemons in boiling water for an hour before draining and preserving as above. Should shorten the curing time by about 2 weeks.

Have fun in the kitchen!

With love,
Jules x