How To Make Preserved Lemons?

how to make preserved lemons

Preserved lemons are a culinary treasure that can elevate your dishes with their vibrant flavor and unique zest. Originating from North African and Middle Eastern cuisines, these preserved gems add a delightful twist to a variety of recipes, from savory stews to refreshing salads. The best part? Making preserved lemons at home is surprisingly easy, requiring just a few simple ingredients and a bit of patience. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to make preserved lemons:


  • Fresh, unwaxed lemons (preferably organic)
  • Coarse sea salt or kosher salt
  • Sterilized glass jar with a tight-fitting lid


  1. Prepare the Lemons: Start by thoroughly washing the lemons to remove any dirt or wax. If possible, use organic lemons, as they tend to have a thicker rind and fewer pesticides.
  2. Slice the Lemons: Slice each lemon lengthwise, but be sure not to cut all the way through. Leave about 1/4 inch (0.5 cm) intact at one end so that the lemon remains whole.
  3. Pack with Salt: Generously sprinkle salt inside each lemon where it’s been sliced. Use coarse sea salt or kosher salt for best results.
  4. Pack in Jar: Place the salted lemons tightly into the sterilized glass jar, pressing them down as you go to release their juices. Continue layering lemons and salt until the jar is filled, leaving a little space at the top.
  5. Seal the Jar: Once the jar is filled, seal it tightly with the lid. Give it a gentle shake to distribute the salt and lemon juices evenly.
  6. Let It Sit: Place the jar in a cool, dark place for at least 1-2 weeks to allow the lemons to ferment and soften. During this time, you may notice the liquid levels rise and the rinds soften.
  7. Occasional Shake: Give the jar a gentle shake every few days to redistribute the salt and juices.
  8. Ready to Use: After 1-2 weeks, your preserved lemons should be ready to use! To use them in recipes, rinse off any excess salt under cold water, then chop or slice the preserved lemon rind as needed. The salty, tangy flavor of the preserved lemons can add a unique depth to salads, tagines, couscous, sauces, and more.
  9. Storage: Store your preserved lemons in the refrigerator once opened. They will keep for several months, and their flavor will continue to develop over time.

With just a few simple steps, you can create a batch of preserved lemons that will bring a burst of citrusy goodness to your culinary creations. Experiment with different dishes and savor the unique flavor profile that preserved lemons offer. Happy preserving!

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