Sunday, November 3, 2013

Make Your Own Preserved Lemons


I don't know of anything more delicious and versatile as Preserved Lemons. And they are so easy to make too! Once you've made them, you'll never pay ridiculous amounts of money for a tiny jar again. Now, there is a catch ... you can't expect to make preserved lemons and be ready to use in the afternoon. Nope, it just isn't happening. This is a process, for beautiful jewel-toned preserved lemons, a long "waiting" period, about 4-6 weeks, is needed. But here's the beauty of this, a little of it goes a long way. And when you are about 2/3 of the way done with your jar, just make a new batch. It will take you all of 10 minutes to cut, salt and lid your lemons. If you know anything about me is that I love the flavors of Moroccan foods, and preserved lemons are a staple in
Moroccan cooking. As to what a preserve lemon tastes like ... briny, tart, a little sweet and the most intense lemon flavor you can possibly imagine. Taste a piece and you'll understand what I mean by intense. I will warn you though, you may find yourself opening the jar and sneaking a piece every so often - yeah it's that good.What can you use it in? Pretty much anything you think would be complimented by the preserved lemon, salads, pastas, grains, meats, curries, stew, baked goods like scones. You are only limited by your own imagination. Of course, I will be posting recipes soon but one way I enjoy it is to mash up a lemon into a paste and add olive oil. Now you have a delicious base for a sauce or dressing!

1 3-pound bag of lemons
1/2 cup kosher salt
1 1-quart glass jar with a tight fitting lid. Make sure you have cleaned and sterilized the jar.

First "dry fit" your lemons to see how many you can squeeze into your jar. In a one quart jar it will probably be about 5-6 depending on the size of the lemon. Remove the lemons.
Cut the stem side off (see picture)
Cut each lemon lengthwise, into quarter, taking care to only slice down 3/4 of the way down. The quarters need to remain attached to each other at the base (see picture).
Carefully, pull the quarters apart and pack with kosher salt, about 1 tablespoon or so per lemon (see picture).
Add one tablespoon of salt to the bottom of the jar. Close the lemons and pack them into the jar. As you add each lemon press down with a spoon to release it's juice. Sprinkle in salt over lemons as you add them. Once the jar is well packed, juice the remaining lemons and add the juice to the jar. Cover with remaining salt. Store in a cool, dry and dark place, like your cupboard or pantry.
Every other day using a clean spoon press down on the lemons to release more juice. Do this for about a week, and in 4-6 weeks your lemons will be ready. During the "pickling stage" you will continue to keep them stored in a cool, dry, dark place.
To use, rinse the lemons well to remove excess salt and discard the pulp (some folks use the pulp - so its up to you if you want to use or not). Use the rind, diced, chopped, sliced , in salads, stews, sauces, pasta dishes, you are only limited by your imagination. I've even pulled a quarter of a lemon out, rinsed and munched on it.


  1. Cool. I love Moroccan flavors so I'd probably like these too. It sounds like a pretty easy way to 'pickle'. I gotta try this, waiting I can handle I just don't like too much work or special utensils. I think I can handle this.

    1. I don't think it can be any easier. Slice, salt, and stuff in a jar. Wait 4 weeks and you have the most delicious preserved lemons ever!

  2. This is amazing. I'm assuming that since they are cured in salt you'd only use them in savory recipes?

    1. I've used it in both savory and sweet, including ice cream.
      Just be sure to rinse the lemon well.