How to Make Preserved Lemons

Here's how to make your own preserved lemons for use in Moroccan and Middle Eastern recipes and more. Pack lemons in salt and their own juices for a slow transformation into something magical!

Elise Bauer

Many Moroccan and Middle Eastern recipes call for preserved lemons, lemons that have been pickled in salt and their own juices. It's quite easy to do, though takes at least three weeks before the lemons are ready to use.

How to Make Preserved Lemons

Prep Time 20 mins
Total Time 20 mins
Servings 64 servings
Yield 1 quart

We use Meyer lemons for making preserved lemons because we grow them and because they are milder than Eureka lemons (the regular lemon you buy at the store), they work beautifully preserved this way.

Ingredients

  • 8 to 10 lemons (Meyer if you have them)

  • 1/2 to 1 cup of kosher salt

  • Extra fresh squeezed lemon juice, if needed

Method

  1. Put 2 tablespoons of kosher salt at the bottom of a sterilized 1-quart canning jar.

  2. Rinse and scrub clean the lemons. With each lemon, cut off any stems. Cut off 1/4 inch from the tip of the lemons. Cut the lemons lengthwise in half, but keep the lemon attached at the base, do not cut all the way through. Then make another cut the same way, as if you were cutting the lemons into quarters, but not all the way through.

    preserved-lemons-1a
    Elise Bauer
    preserved-lemons-1b
    Elise Bauer
  3. Gently pull open the lemons and sprinkle well with kosher salt, inside and out.

  4. Put the prepared lemons in your canning jar and press them down so that their juices come out and rise to the top. Pack the jar with lemons, making sure that they are covered with juice. Add more juice if needed, and add a couple more tablespoons of kosher salt to the top.

  5. Close the lid to the jar and let it sit at room temperature on the counter for a few days. Turn the jar upside down every so often. After a few days put the jar of lemons in the refrigerator for at least 3 weeks, until the rinds of the lemons soften. Turn the jar upside down occasionally while storing in the refrigerator.

  6. To use preserved lemons in cooking, remove one from the jar and rinse it to remove the salt. Discard any seeds. Remove the pulp. Thinly slice or chop the preserved lemon rind to use in a recipe.

    Preserved lemons can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 6 months.

    Note:

    Experiment with adding spices to the preserved lemons—cardamom, vanilla, cloves, coriander seeds, cinnamon stick, bay leaf, peppercorns.

Preserved Lemons on Simply Recipes
Elise Bauer
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
18 Calories
0g Fat
5g Carbs
0g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 64
Amount per serving
Calories 18
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 473mg 21%
Total Carbohydrate 5g 2%
Dietary Fiber 1g 3%
Total Sugars 3g
Protein 0g
Vitamin C 17mg 84%
Calcium 7mg 1%
Iron 0mg 1%
Potassium 71mg 2%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. In cases where multiple ingredient alternatives are given, the first listed is calculated for nutrition. Garnishes and optional ingredients are not included.