How To: Preserved Lemons

preserved lemons

It’s lemon season and this is a favorite way to use ‘em if you’ve got ‘em. Don’t let the term “preserved” scare you; this is much easier and quicker (really, only minutes) than traditional canning. Simply grab a clean jar; cut up the lemons, stuff them with salt, and shove them into jars and let them hang out. Done.

This process works great with any type of lemon, but if you have the choice, go for the Meyers. Meyers have thinner skin and sweeter fruit when you match that up with the salt it’s a flavor enhancer like none other.  After the lemons have “preserved” add to Chicken Tagine or toss with cooked farro for a flavorful side.

When the lemons start taking over my kitchen counter I’ll make a batch of these for my pantry— and they make great hostess or thank you gift, too.

preserved lemons

prepping lemons

The following recipe was adapted from the lovely and talented Peggy Markel and makes a 4 to 6-ounce sized jar of preserved lemons, just multiply if you want to make more. I prefer to make a batch of smaller jars to make it easier to share with friends, but if you want to make them in one gigantic jar knock yourself out.  A canning jar with a plastic or rubber-lined lid works best.

Preserved Lemons

4 - 6 ounce jar

5 – 6 small lemons, or 3 large
Kosher salt—lots of it.

Pour the kosher salt into a small bowl so you can easily dig in as needed. Cut the lemon from top to bottom in quarters, leaving half of the lemons connected on one end (this way you can open it up like a flower and shove the salt right in) and some cut all the way through into quarters.  I like to do it this way so that I can maximize the number of lemons in the jar and the quartered ones are easier to wedge in than the lemons still attached.

Pack each quadrant with about 1 tablespoon of salt. Push 5 to 6 lemons (however many will fit, don’t be afraid to really smash them in) into the jar and tightly seal the lid. If you want, feel free to add fresh herbs or a bay leaf to the jar before closing.

Leave lemons on the kitchen counter or in your pantry for up to three weeks. Rotate turning the jar upside down, then right side up daily for the first few days. The lemons will be ready to use within the first three days of soaking in the salt.

These will keep for up to one year in refrigerator once they are “preserved.” When opening the jar, use a wooden spoon to scoop them out or a toothpick. A metal spoon is more temperamental; it can react with acid and change the taste of the lemons.