Thursday, August 13, 2009

Preserved Lemons

Since I used preserved lemons in today’s recipe I thought I should post a recipe for them in case you can’t buy them locally. Preserved lemons are very easy to make. This is a recipe that I pull out almost every Christmas to make presents for my foodie friends. If you haven’t tried to make your own preserved lemons you should give it a try. It is much easier than canning (no heat required).

If you are unfamiliar with preserved lemons they are required for Moroccan cooking. The lemons are pickled in salt and the peel becomes very soft. They are used in stews, tagines or as a condiment in Moroccan cooking.

Preserved Lemons
Makes 1 quart


8 organic lemons, whole
½ cup of kosher salt
8+ organic lemons for juice, as needed
4 cinnamon sticks
4 bay leaves
12 green cardamom pods
½ tablespoon of whole black peppercorns
½ tablespoon of coriander seed, whole


Wash the lemons well. Cut them into quarters from the top but stop ½ inch from the bottom so that the lemon will open like a flower. Sprinkle the inside of each of the 8 lemons with salt.

Place a tablespoon of salt in the bottom of the jar. Place a lemon in the jar firmly, adding more salt with each additional lemon. Continue adding lemons until the jar is full. Add the cinnamon sticks, bay leaves, cardamom pods, peppercorns and coriander.

After all the lemons are in the jar add the remaining salt. Top the lemons with the fresh lemon juice to bring the level to the top of the jar. You want no more then ½ inch of headspace in the top of the jar. Put the lid on the jar.

Allow the lemons to sit at room temperature for at least 3 weeks. Turn the jar over each day for the first week so the salt will distribute evenly.

You can keep the lemons in the jar in your pantry for a year or more until you are ready to use them. Once you open the jar keep it the refrigerator.

To use the lemons take them out of the jar and rinse them under water to wash away the extra salt. In Morocco traditionally the peel is the only part of the lemon that is used. I sometimes use the flesh as well depending on the recipe. If I am not using the flesh I save it in the refrigerator to use later in vinaigrette or soup.

Nutritional Information:

I did not post the stats for this recipe since the sodium will be far higher than reality since you rinse much of it away.


Once you have preserved lemons in the house you will find so many ways to use them. I like to make preserved lemon vinaigrette it is wonderful with most salads that contain olives. They are also fabulous in cold chickpea salads.

I will be posting some recipes that use preserved lemons in the future so you have a use for them in case you make a jar or two.


  1. Hi Alicia,

    You are such a prolific blogger, it's hard to keep up! I love this; I do homemade Christmas gifts every year...and I'm definitely putting the preserved lemons on my list. It is a real "foodie" kind of gift. I usually give the recipe along with the gifts I make. Pending your ok: I'll make little cards that give the recipe and your blog as the reference. (If for whatever reason, you don't feel comfy with that, no problem, just let me know.)

    I always enjoy your posts, so informative, creative, and thoughtful.

    I'm still pondering the olive oil you, I have Italian roots and I thought that buying a really good quality, stone-pressed olive oil was the way to go. But, looking at the ratios of omega 3 to 6 in olive oil has really got me thinking.

    Thanks as always for the info.


  2. John/Rose?

    Please feel free to pass along the recipe and thanks for offering to include where it came from .... I really appreciate that.

    I received an interesting sliced preserved recipe from a friend a month or so ago. The idea behind using slices is that the process is quicker and they can be used whole on sandwiches. I will be playing with that recipe in the next week or so. I will post the results when I do.

    Thank you for the nice compliment on my posts. As you may have noticed, I am a little obsessed with nutrition.

    I feel your pain on the olive oil issue. I cooked with olive oil only for years. Now I use canola in my cooking and save the olive oil for special salad dressings or as a finishing oil. The benefit is that we now buy really nice unfiltered extra virgin oil so it is a real treat when I do use it.

    Thanks for the comments and if you have any suggestions or requests please feel free to let me know.


  3. Hi again,

    Yes, it's me, Rose... I was on my husband's (John's) computer and didn't cop that he was logged in under his goggle account, thus the John signature.

    Rose :)

  4. Rose,

    Thanks for the clarification I was a little confused.

    You gave me a great idea with your earlier comment. I decided I would start a new category, "gifts from the kitchen" and try to post one recipe each week. Do you have any requests?


  5. Wow. I have seen lemon preserve recipes in my African cookbook. I will have to try these. I love giving food as a gift at Christmas/Hannukah in our home.(We celebrate both:)

  6. twoveganboys,

    Please let me know what you think if you try them. Once I started making preserved lemons I found many ways to use.

    Also, thanks for letting me know you like the idea of food as gifts. I am definitely going to be adding a few of those recipes soon. If you have any suggestions of things you would like to see, please post a comment.

    Two holidays sounds like double the work for mom to me, you are quite the trooper. My paternal grandparents were Episcopal and Jewish but my strong willed grandmother only celebrated one holiday (hers of course).



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