Pickling Project: Preserved Lemons

Recently, Stacie and I got together to make some preserved lemons.  My friend Anya gave me a bunch of lemons from her lemon tree and our friend Rosie from 18 Reasons sent us instructions on how make preserved lemons.  We got carried away and made way more than we needed, so some our friends are going to have these sunny jars of yumminess coming their way.

Preserved lemons are a Middle Eastern/Moroccan condiment that are basically lemons that have been pickled in their own juices and salt.  Fun and easy to make, though you have to wait 3-4 weeks for them to be ready.  You can involve the kids by making them help with the squeezing of lemons, salting and periodic shaking of jars.  Stacie also had the wonderful of idea of getting the kids to make some labels for the jars.  It’s a neat and easy way to introduce children and yourself to pickling.  These lemons are usually pretty pricey to buy from specialty stores and making your own seems to be the way to go.  We also experimented with some limes and by adding spices and chilies to some jars.  Can’t wait for our preserved lemons to be ready for use!

Preserved Lemons from Simply Recipes


  • 8-10 Meyer lemons*, scrubbed very clean
  • 1/2 cup kosher salt, more if needed
  • Extra fresh squeezed lemon juice, if needed
  • Sterilized quart canning jar

* You don’t need to use Meyer lemons, regular lemons will do, it’s just that the milder Meyer lemons work very well for preserving in this way.


1. Place 2 Tbsp of salt in the bottom of a sterilized jar.

2.One by one, prepare the lemons in the following way. Cut off any protruding stems from the lemons, and cut 1/4 inch off the tip of each lemon. Cut the lemons as if you were going to cut them in half lengthwise, starting from the tip, but do not cut all the way. Keep the lemon attached at the base. Make another cut in a similar manner, so now the lemon is quartered, but again, attached at the base.

3. Pry the lemons open and generously sprinkle salt all over the insides and outsides of the lemons.

4. Pack the lemons in the jar, squishing them down so that juice is extracted and the lemon juice rises to the top of the jar. Fill up the jar with lemons, make sure the top is covered with lemon juice. Add more fresh squeezed lemon juice if necessary. Top with a couple tablespoons of salt.

5. Seal the jar and let sit at room temperature for a couple days. Turn the jar upside down occasionally. Put in refrigerator and let sit, again turning upside down occasionally, for at least 3 weeks, until lemon rinds soften.

6. To use, remove a lemon from the jar and rinse thoroughly in water to remove salt. Discard seeds before using. Discard the pulp before using, if desired.

7. Store in refrigerator for up to 6 months.

You can add spices to the lemons as well – cloves, coriander seeds, peppercorns, cinnamon stick, bay leaf.

Below are some recipes using preserved lemons.  Do share yours if you have any.

Lamb with Preserved Lemons – This is from Bar Jules in San Francisco.  We have made this for many a dinner party and it has been a hit.  Ria loves it too.

Vegetable & Whole Grain Salad with Preserved Lemons – from my friend Lena’s blog A Happier Meal (she has got some good stuff on her blog and some very lucky kids!)

Roasted Chicken with Preserved Lemons – cannot wait to try this once our lemons are ready

Fettuccine with Preserved Lemons and Roasted Garlic – this one is right up Stacie’s alley

Sauteed String Beans with Preserved Lemons and Garlic – simple side dish

Chicken Tagine with Preserved Lemons, Green Olives and Golden Raisins – intriguing!  I am also currently into using raisins in cooking.

10 thoughts on “Pickling Project: Preserved Lemons

  1. Oh I remember how mom used to make us scrub those lemons. We were huge fan of these lemon so we would help her. Thanks for the recipe, I am going to farmers market this saturday if I find some lemon I am making this recipe.

  2. Oh what a fun project with kids!! I want to participate in this project too! hehe! Can’t wait to see what you are going to make with these HOMEMADE preserved lemons. 🙂

  3. Beautiful photo, beautiful jars of pickled goodness. I’m so jealous that you live in a climate that comes with friends with lemon trees.

  4. Pingback: Weeknight Chicken with Roasted Meyer Lemon, Rosemary and Garlic (alla Michael Chiarello) « A Little Yumminess

  5. Pingback: Chicken with Roasted Meyer Lemon, Rosemary and Garlic (alla Michael Chiarello) « A Little Yumminess

  6. Pingback: Moroccan Chicken with Preserved Lemons and Olives (“Djej M’Chermel”) | A Little Yumminess

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