January 6, 2014

Salted preserved lemons

Jar of salted preserved lemons with a fermentation lock on top.

I've declared 2014 the year of fermentation! I've tried my hand at sauerkraut and received The Art of Fermentation for Christmas, so I'm slowly building my knowledge and experience in this technique. Salted preserved lemons are something I have been wanting to try for a while. 

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I have never actually eaten them before, but after learning about them, they stuck in my head. I love Moroccan spices, so I've been imagining the wonderful flavor that these lemons will impart to couscous, tagines, and much more. I'm super excited for them to finish their fermenting and curing process so I can give them a try!

Citrus is in season now, so it's time to get a jar of these going. They will take about 4-6 weeks to be ready to eat, but will last for a year or more in the refrigerator. 

You eat the rind, so you'll want to get organic lemons. I used regular lemons, but many people recommend Meyer lemons. There are tons of "recipes" for preserved lemons out there and as far as I can tell, there's no prescribed amount of salt - it seems to range from 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup per quart jar. For this recipe, I used a little under 1/3 cup of sea salt and 7 organic lemons.

Lemons with salt.

Salted preserved lemons
7-9 lemons, preferably organic
scant 1/3 cup salt

Sterilize a quart canning jar. Wash the lemons well.

Cut any knobby ends off of the lemons. Pull of any stems. Cut each lemon in quarters, stopping about 3/4 of the way down so they stay together. Place about 2 teaspoons of salt into the cuts on each lemon. Lightly squeeze them and them place them in the canning jar. Use a wooden spoon to press them down into the jar, taking care to try not to break them, but to get out juice and make room for more lemons.

Repeat until the jar is full of lemons. If they are not covered in juice, add the juice of 1-2 lemons (until they are covered). Add the remaining salt to the jar. I like to then place a ceramic weight on top to keep the food submerged.

I use an airlock (purchased for under $2.00 at a homebrewing store) and a reCAP Mason jar lid to ferment my foods. However, some people will simply use a regular canning jar lid. Put your lid on and set in a warm place for about 5 days. Given them a "swish" every day or so to keep the salt distributed. 

If using the airlock lid, remove it and cover with a regular lid (or just keep the reCAP on). Place in the refrigerator and let cure for another 4-5 weeks, making sure to "swish" them every few days 

The peels will looks shiny and will be mellowed in flavor. Use small amounts (to taste) in Moroccan stews, tagines, vegetable dishes, couscous or rice, and more! I'm sure I'll be posting some uses later this year!

Cut lemons being stuffed with salt.


  1. How useful, Amy! I love Moroccan cuisine and would be glad to use these preserved lemons in many dishes, especially couscous which I cook more often.

  2. I'm not sure I've ever eaten a preserved lemon, but they have always sounded so interesting to me. Can't wait to see what else you preserve this year!

  3. I got started with fermenting last year, and now we have some kind of fermented veg just about every day - SO good for you!

    Preserved lemons are my list for this year so I will be back to see how you did with this batch - can't wait to see how you use them.

  4. I really mean to start doing some preserved lemons but I'm still going through a jar of them given to me as I tend to use them in tagines when it's cold. I need to find more summer recipes for them. :)

  5. I'm just about out of my last preserved lemons. I need to get my gear together and make some more.

  6. How exciting! I know next to nothing about fermenting so I'm so excited to learn along with you!!

  7. I've never tried fermenting before...thanks for showing us how!!!

  8. That's a very interesting way to treat lemons.
    Must start fermenting to preserve my citrons.
    Thanks for the inspiration!

  9. I love the flavor of preserve lemons! I've made these, but it's been forever. Gotta do it again - there are a few recipes that I know that can't be made without them. Good stuff - thanks.


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