Making Preserved Lemons

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

So I have been hell-bent on learning Moroccan cooking the past year or so and I am finally getting to it. First I picked the olives and now I have the preserved lemons on the way. Elise gave me some fresh Meyer lemons to use so I can't wait to see how their sweet flavor develops. Preserved lemons can be a bit testy and go bad easily so I decided to make them in two different ways.

Method 1: I cut the lemons into most quarters, though still connected at the base, and packed them with salt. The method is in detail on Simply Recipes.

Method 2: I just cut the lemons into quarters all the way through and alternated layers of lemons and salt (a mixture of sea salt and kosher salt). I also used some coriander and bay leaves in this jar for a bit of extra flavor. Afterwards I topped it off with a bit more salt and lemon juice.

The end result should give me some nice preserved lemons. The fruit isn't really usable which is fine because the peel is what you want. Chopped up into tagines or other dishes they give a heady perfume of fruit, salt, and citrus which just permeates the dish.

Wish them luck!


  1. I make these every year and I can share a few things:

    First, they will not last all year. They get saltier and funkier as time goes by, so eat them all by the end of July.

    Second, you can do another method by using Elise's recipe, then covering the lot with lemon juice. It need not be fresh squeezed; I use store-bought. It adds more acid to the party, which kills bacteria. Think of it as a natural pickle.

  2. Happy New Year Garrett! I hope that the preserved lemons are among the many things that turn out well for you in 2008.

  3. One piece of advice -- replace the metal caps with plastic ones, because the salt will react with the metal lids. Remember to turn the jars every so often, to redistribute the brine. And then have fun -- you'll find all kinds of recipes that use preserved lemons once you have them in your fridge.

  4. So when you come over Sunday I'll give you a third variation. And mine last all year, contrary to the other post. Could be the Meyer lemons? Anyway the uses are numerous and Meyer lemons are currently prolific!

  5. Could one make a non-salt version of this using the recipe? In the salted version could I use the lemon peels in salad dressings? Or chicken spice rubs?

    Happy New Year! And I can't wait to see how you use the peels in your cooking!

  6. Lydia - Hmm... no plastic caps have I. I'm just going to hope for the best right now.

    Dennis - I'm using Meyer lemons myself for these. I think I will try another batch though using an all glass jar and more spices. =)
    I look forward to trying yours though!!!

  7. Try preserved lemon chutney!

  8. Happy New Year!
    I've made preserved lemons just slicing the lemons into 1/4" thick slices and packing in salt. You can just eat the whole thing like a pickle.. not just the rind. Just rinse off the salt and serve, it's very good.

  9. I make the Indian version of this..pack it julienned ginger,salt,Powdered fenugreek seeds,chopped thai green chillies and the lemon is quartered..we love it!

  10. This is the first time I have visited your site - what a fabulous blog! Lovely recipes and pictures, I hope to enjoy your recipes in the near future.

  11. Happy New Year!

    Even if they don't turn out, they'll certainly make for a beautiful table decoration.

    Good luck!

  12. Oh yum. I wish we had some really good lemons so I could do this!

  13. I'm with Christianne, even if they don't taste good, they're beautiful but the concept intrigues me. Up here, behind the redwood curtain, I've not heard of preserved lemons but, I'm often out of the loop. I may attempt with the fruit currently gracing my little tree.

  14. I've been toying with doing this myself. I'm very interested in seeing how yours turn out - then I'll know what method to use myself. Good luck!

  15. To Gigi - The salt cures the lemons and the net result is you have a lemon peel that is void of the acidity but they are extremely salty. The trick is you can boil the peel in water for about 10 minutes then it is edible in salad dressings or sprinkled over a grilled piece of fish. Kind of like a lemon zest without the acidity of the lemon.
    Right out of the jar, you can rinse the lemons (your just using the peel) and dice them with rosemary and garlic as a great rub under a chicken skin or for leg of lamb. Keep in mind that you're adding a bit of salt if you use them this way.
    I've always put cinnamon sticks and bay leafs in my confit, but to tell the truth the salt is such a dominant factor I really don't think it does much other then look pretty.
    And one more thing about the jars, if you use a mason jar to preserve lemons, that's your lemon jar forever. I can not get the salt/lemon scent out of the jar no matter how much washing.

  16. I made these ages ago and I seem to remember boiling the whole lemons first, and packing them quartered and hot into the jars to create a seal. They did keep for quite a long time.


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