Preserved Lemons

Preserved Lemons over Salad

Having a well-stocked pantry and fridge can make or break the home cooking experience. Staple condiments provide comfort, and may bring sweetness, saltiness, sourness, brightness, or spiciness to an otherwise bland meal. Today's recipe is a pantry staple all over the world, and for good reason. Preserved lemons are easy to make and stretch the beloved lemon throughout the months which they are out of season.

The origins of preserved lemons date back to at least Roman times, but likely much earlier (Soyer, 110). They can be found in cuisines in the geographic span of Morocco to India. (Sonneman, 34) I most commonly associate the pickled citrus with North African stews and Moroccan tagine. North African food is vibrant with bold spices and colors; that is why ingredients like preserved lemons should be in every self-respecting home cook's repertoire.

So today we start preserving lemons! The unique fragrance of preserved lemons will add a distinct brightness to home cooked North African, Middle Eastern, or South East Asian dishes. Besides lemons, another citrus may be used in this pickling method. Limes, Grapefruit, and even oranges can be salted, cured, and allowed to ferment in their juices to extend their lifespan. Just like other pickles, spices may be added to preserved citrus to alter the flavor.

Preserved Lemons


  • Your preference Lemons
  • Box Coarse Kosher salt
  • Your preference Mason Jars
Cooking Directions
  1. Clean Mason jar(s), and allow to dry.
  2. Pour roughly 1 T of salt, or enough to create a layer into the bottom of the dry jar(s).
  3. Cut the tops off of all lemons, and quarter without cutting all the way through.
  4. Add a large pinch of salt in the center of the cut lemon and rub.
  5. Press down and allow some juice to come out. Give the jar a good shake and place in a dark area like a cupboard or drawer away from direct sunlight.
  6. After three days, remove and with a wooden spoon or other long-handled tool press the lemons to release the rest of their juices. If the leftover juice does not fully submerge, the lemons add fresh lemon juice on top.
  7. Place back in the same spot and allow the preserved lemons to ferment for one month.
  8. The preserved lemon rind also known as peel will be good to use indefinitely. Refrigerate and enjoy as needed.
Total Time: 1 month+

Citations and Further Readings:

  • Sonneman, Toby. Lemon: A Global History. London: Reaktion Books Ltd, 2012. Print.
  • Soyer, Alexis. The pantropheon, or, History of food, and it's preparation: From the Earliest Ages of the World. Boston: Ticknor, Reed, and Fields, 1853. Print. 


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