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.
Adding Spices to Preserved Lemons
Experiment with adding spices to the preserved lemons—cardamom, vanilla, cloves, coriander seeds, cinnamon stick, bay leaf, and peppercorns are all options. Don't use them all together, but think about how you'll be using the lemons and how the spices might complement the dishes you put them in.
How to Use Your Preserved Lemons
Once you have a jar of preserved lemons sitting in the refrigerator, what do you do with the lemon rinds once you've rinsed one or more of salt and finely chopped it? Readers in the comments have plenty of ideas for putting them to work.
- Add a little to fresh pasta sauce
- Sprinkle on hot peppers
- Add to a yogurt sauce for salads
- Stir into rice
- Add to couscous
- Top arugula salads
- Sprinkle on seafood
We have some specific recipes that you can use them in, too:
- Grilled Whole Salmon With Preserved Lemon Relish
- Moroccan Chicken With Lemon and Olives
- Grilled Shrimp With Chermoula
- Parchment Baked Fish And Vegetables With Chermoula
How to Make Preserved Lemons
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.
You may need up to 1/2 cup of extra lemon juice in order to be sure the packed lemons are submerged, especially if using Eureka lemons. Be sure you have extra lemons on hand, just in case.
8 to 10 lemons (Meyer if you have them but Eureka—the regular grocery store type—are fine)
1/2 to 1 cup kosher salt
Extra fresh squeezed lemon juice, if needed
- 1 (1-quart) wide-mouthed canning jar
Add some salt to the jar:
Put 2 tablespoons of kosher salt at the bottom of a sterilized 1-quart wide-mouthed canning jar.
Scrub and cut the lemons:
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.
Sprinkle with salt:
Gently pull open the lemons and sprinkle well with kosher salt, inside and out.
Add the lemons to the jar:
Put the prepared lemons to the jar, one at a time. After each one, press it down so its juices come out and rise to the top. Pack the jar with lemons, making sure that they are covered with juice.
The number of lemons that fit in the jar will depend on the size of your lemons.
If any of the lemons break apart, don't worry. It won't ruin anything.
The blunt end of a muddling stick is a good tool to use to press down the lemons.
Add more lemon juice (if needed) and salt:
Add more juice if needed to submerge the lemons (you may need up to an additional 1/2 cup) and add a couple more tablespoons of kosher salt to the top.
Seal and let sit, then refrigerate:
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.
Use the preserved lemons:
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.
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|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 0g||0%|
|Saturated Fat 0g||0%|
|Total Carbohydrate 5g||2%|
|Dietary Fiber 1g||3%|
|Total Sugars 3g|
|Vitamin C 17mg||84%|
|*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.|