How to make Preserved Lemons

Preserved Lemons is a staple in the Middle Eastern Kitchen, a must pantry item that helps to boost flavor in a whole new way. It’s easy to make and one should never bother to buy it from the store. Just fresh lemons and salt is all you need and to enhance the flavor, a few whole spices. In this post, I mentioned all the details you need to know on How to make Preserved Lemons!

Fresh lemons are a mandate in my kitchen and I use it almost every day, either the zest or the juice! Be it drinks or curries or simple stir-fry, a little squeeze of fresh lemons is something that I always add at the end of the cooking. Earlier this year, I made my first batch of preserved lemons and now I am using it quite a bit. I am yet to try making the famous Chicken Tagine, but I will soon try that too. Preserved Lemons is a lovely condiment to make and stock up in your pantry.

How to make Preserved Lemons

How to make Preserved Lemons?

 To make Preserved Lemons, you will need

  • Lemons
  • Lots and lots of Kosher Salt
  • Bay Leaves, Whole Peppercorn, Cinnamon Stick (optional flavoring ideas)
  • Airtight Glass Jar

Here are the steps to make preserved lemons:

  • Clean the lemons and trim both the ends. Then, slice them into quarter BUT not all the way.
  • Pack each lemon tightly with a lot of salt.
  • Layer the bottom of the jar with enough salt and place all the lemons tightly along with the whole spices.
  • Add more salt in between the lemons and top the jar with more salt.
  • Muddle the lemons gently and you will realize that the lemons will start releasing juices.
  • Place a cloth (optional) on the jar and seal it tight. Make sure to add a label on the jar with the date!
  • Place it on the kitchen counter in a dark corner and shake the jar every day for the first week.
  • After few days, all the lemons should be submerged in the juice. If you still don’t see enough juice, top it with some freshly squeezed lemon juice.

How to use Preserved Lemons?

Often people know how to make preserved lemons but then doesn’t know how to use it! Using a clean spoon or fork, take out 1 lemon wedge. Clean it thoroughly to remove all the extra salt. Then, take a sharp knife and remove the pulp. Thinly slice the lemon rinds and use it in salad dressings or sandwich or curries or toping for your focaccia bread (recipe coming soon).

Can Preserve Lemons get spoilt?

It’s very important to use clean airtight jar to preserve lemons. I layer a tiny cloth on top before sealing the bottle just to make sure it’s airtight. Mine has been lasting for 6 months now and it’s absolutely fine. If it smells really bad or you see black molds, definitely throw it away. To avoid contamination, make sure you use clean dry utensils when taking out lemon from the jar.

IMPORTANT NOTES:

Here are couple important notes to keep in mind with preserved lemons.

I kept the jar in the kitchen counter for 6 months and it didn’t get spoilt. But to be safe, after few weeks once the lemons softened, store it in the refrigerator. Give it a shake every now and then.

It takes about 4 weeks for the lemons to soften and ready to eat. For better taste, let it ferment for a few months. I didn’t open mine for 4 months.

How to make Preserved Lemons

Do preserve lemons needs to be refrigerated?

I kept mine outside and it’s absolutely fine, but I have read that storing it in the fridge is better during summer. Also, less risk of getting spoilt! So depending on where you live, how the weather is, based on the the humidity and heat level, decide to weather store it outside or refrigerator.

How long do preserve lemons last?

I have a friend whose preserved lemons has been lasting for 5 years now! So, I guess as long as you keep it sealed and use clean dry utensils to take the lemons out, the preserved lemons will last years.

I definitely think preserved lemons are an acquired taste. Some love it and some absolutely hate it. But if you have never tried it before, you will never know. So get some lemons and give it a try. You don’t have to make a big batch. I have two ginormous lemon trees (thanks to my landlord) that needs no TLC and yet, they give bountiful lemons through out the year. We give away bags full to our neighbors, at work and yet, we are left with more than enough. So, one day I decided to try my hands with preserving a few of these lemons and it was a good call for sure.

Here are couple other condiments that you will enjoy!

Bird’s Eye Chili Zesty Hot Sauce

Easy Lemon Curd

Garlic Achaar

Honey Dijon Hummus with Zaatar Pita Chips

How to make Preserved Lemons

How to make Preserved Lemons

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes

Preserved Lemons is a staple in the Middle Eastern Kitchen, a must pantry item that helps to boost flavor in a whole new way. It’s easy to make and one should never bother to buy it from the store.

Ingredients

  • 5 to 6 lemons
  • 1/2 cup kosher salt, you might need more or less depending on the size of lemons
  • Whole spices, optional

Instructions

  1. Clean the lemons and trim both the ends. Then, slice them into quarter BUT not all the way.
  2. Pack each lemon tightly with lots of salt.
  3. Layer the bottom of the jar with enough salt and place all the lemons tightly till the top of the jar along with the whole spices.
  4. Add more salt in between the lemons and top the jar with more salt.
  5. Muddle the lemons gently and you will realize that the lemon will start releasing juices.
  6. Place a cloth (optionaon the jar and seal it tight. Make sure to add a label the jar with the date.
  7. Place it on the kitchen counter in a dark corner and shake the jar every day for the first week.
  8. After few days, all your lemons should be submerged in the juice. If you still don’t see enough juice, top it with some freshly squeezed lemon juice.
  9. It takes about 4 weeks for the lemons to soften and ready to eat. For better taste, let it ferment for a few months. I didn’t open mine for 4 months.

Did you enjoy this recipe? Share your creation by tagging @playfulcooking on Instagram with the #playfulcooking and I will re-share in my story!

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Comments are closed.

  • 2pots2cook
    August 7, 2019 at 12:23 AM

    Dear Kankana, you just made my day ! A week ago I have bought a jar of preserved lemons since I needed some for Moroccan dishes, writing down that one of my “musts” is to learn how to make these babies at home 🙂 Now, here you are with your georgeous photos ! Thank you very much and enjoy the day !

  • Arpita
    August 8, 2019 at 2:45 AM

    Oh my! I am so tempted to preserve some lemons now. I had tried preserved lemons in Morocco and loved it. Beautiful pictures!!!

  • Jeff the Chef
    August 8, 2019 at 3:23 AM

    I’ve heard of preserved lemons before, but I’ve never tasted one. I’m so curious.

  • angiesrecipes
    August 9, 2019 at 2:44 AM

    I am exactly the one who once made the preserved lemons but had no idea what I should do with them…after leaving the whole jar there for more than 2 years and I hat to throw it away…lucky you having those fresh picked lemons!

  • David @ Spiced
    August 12, 2019 at 6:14 AM

    I stumbled across preserved lemons on an olive and condiment bar at a local grocery store some years back. That was the first time I’d seen them, and I was amazed! I’ve never tried my hand at making them here at home, though. I need to get a batch going! 🙂

  • priya
    August 14, 2019 at 10:23 AM

    I make preserved lemons but never tried adding peppercorns and bay leaf. WE used to preserve lemons with salt and turmeric. I love this method kankana.