Here’s how to make your own preserved lemons for use in Moroccan and Middle Eastern recipes and more. Pack lemons in salt and their own juices for a slow transformation into something magical!

Elise Bauer Many Moroccan and Middle Eastern recipes call for preserved lemons, lemons that have been pickled in salt and their own juices. It’s quite easy to do, though takes at least three weeks before the lemons are ready to use. Simply Recipes / Sally Vargas

Adding Spices to Preserved Lemons

Experiment with adding spices to the preserved lemons—cardamom, vanilla, cloves, coriander seeds, cinnamon stick, bay leaf, and peppercorns are all options. Don’t use them all together, but think about how you’ll be using the lemons and how the spices might complement the dishes you put them in.

How to Use Your Preserved Lemons

Once you have a jar of preserved lemons sitting in the refrigerator, what do you do with the lemon rinds once you’ve rinsed one or more of salt and finely chopped it? Readers in the comments have plenty of ideas for putting them to work.

  • Add a little to fresh pasta sauce
  • Sprinkle on hot peppers
  • Add to a yogurt sauce for salads
  • Stir into rice
  • Add to couscous
  • Top arugula salads
  • Sprinkle on seafood

We have some specific recipes that you can use them in, too:

  • Grilled Whole Salmon With Preserved Lemon Relish
  • Moroccan Chicken With Lemon and Olives
  • Chermoula
  • Grilled Shrimp With Chermoula
  • Parchment Baked Fish And Vegetables With Chermoula

We use Meyer lemons for making preserved lemons because we grow them and because they are milder than Eureka lemons (the regular lemon you buy at the store); they work beautifully preserved this way. You may need up to 1/2 cup of extra lemon juice in order to be sure the packed lemons are submerged, especially if using Eureka lemons. Be sure you have extra lemons on hand, just in case.

  • 8 to 10 lemons (Meyer if you have them but Eureka—the regular grocery store type—are fine)
  • 1/2 to 1 cup kosher salt
  • Extra fresh squeezed lemon juice, if needed
  • 1
    (1-quart) wide-mouthed canning jar
  1. Add some salt to the jar:Put 2 tablespoons of kosher salt at the bottom of a sterilized 1-quart wide-mouthed canning jar.Simply Recipes / Sally Vargas
  2. Scrub and cut the lemons:Rinse and scrub clean the lemons. With each lemon, cut off any stems. Cut off 1/4 inch from the tip of the lemons. Cut the lemons lengthwise in half, but keep the lemon attached at the base, do not cut all the way through. Then make another cut the same way, as if you were cutting the lemons into quarters, but not all the way through.Simply Recipes / Sally Vargas Simply Recipes / Sally Vargas
  3. Sprinkle with salt:Gently pull open the lemons and sprinkle well with kosher salt, inside and out.Simply Recipes / Sally Vargas
  4. Add the lemons to the jar:Put the prepared lemons to the jar, one at a time. After each one, press it down so its juices come out and rise to the top. Pack the jar with lemons, making sure that they are covered with juice.The number of lemons that fit in the jar will depend on the size of your lemons. If any of the lemons break apart, don’t worry. It won’t ruin anything.

    Simple Tip!

    The blunt end of a muddling stick is a good tool to use to press down the lemons. Simply Recipes / Sally Vargas

  5. Add more lemon juice (if needed) and salt:Add more juice if needed to submerge the lemons (you may need up to an additional 1/2 cup) and add a couple more tablespoons of kosher salt to the top.Simply Recipes / Sally Vargas
  6. Seal and let sit, then refrigerate:Close the lid to the jar and let it sit at room temperature on the counter for a few days. Turn the jar upside down every so often. After a few days put the jar of lemons in the refrigerator for at least 3 weeks, until the rinds of the lemons soften. Turn the jar upside down occasionally while storing in the refrigerator.Simply Recipes / Sally Vargas
  7. Use the preserved lemons:To use preserved lemons in cooking, remove one from the jar and rinse it to remove the salt. Discard any seeds. Remove the pulp. Thinly slice or chop the preserved lemon rind to use in a recipe.Preserved lemons can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 6 months. Did you love this recipe? Give us some stars below! Simply Recipes / Sally Vargas
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
18 Calories
0g Fat
5g Carbs
0g Protein

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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 64
Amount per serving
Calories 18
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 473mg 21%
Total Carbohydrate 5g 2%
Dietary Fiber 1g 3%
Total Sugars 3g
Protein 0g
Vitamin C 17mg 84%
Calcium 7mg 1%
Iron 0mg 1%
Potassium 71mg 2%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.

Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. In cases where multiple ingredient alternatives are given, the first listed is calculated for nutrition. Garnishes and optional ingredients are not included. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. See my disclosure policy. preserved lemons recipe how to make Moroccan Middle Eastern cooking Unlock one of the secrets of Moroccan and Middle Eastern cuisine and discover how preserved lemons transform a dish into something indescribably exquisite! If you’re a fan of Moroccan and Middle Eastern cooking you’ve probably had the experience of thumbing through recipes, drooling all the while, earmarking the ones you particularly like, only to then scan through the ingredients and see the words: “Preserved Lemons”. Your heart sinks for a moment as you realize you’re sorely lacking this crucial ingredient (and simultaneously wondering, what the heck is a “preserved lemon” anyway??) And so with disappointment you un-earmark that page and move on to the next recipe. DON’T let that scenario stop you again! Preserved lemons are so easy and quick to make, last practically forever, and will enhance your dishes like nothing you’ve ever tasted. If you’re willing to take a few minutes of your time to make these preserved lemons, you’ll be able to reap your lemony harvest throughout the rest of the year. Okay, so first things first. What are preserved lemons? They’re lemons that have been pickled in salt and their own juices and left to sit for a month before using. Now that we’ve defined it, the second question is: Why should I give a hoot about preserved lemons? What’s the big deal anyway? I can make Moroccan and Middle Eastern food without them, thank you very much! Yeah, that’s like saying I can enjoy Oreo cookies without the filling. THINK ABOUT IT. Preserved lemons will transform your dish from something good into something amazing. Think about how much you love things flavored with lemon. Preserved lemons are lemons on steroids. They add an intense, concentrated lemon flavor to the dish without all the sour tartness. The preserving process tempers the tartness while accentuating the lemon flavor. Mildly tart but intensely lemony. See, I told you. Don’t think twice next time about leaving out this touch of heaven.

How to Use Preserved Lemons

Preserved lemons are used throughout Morocco, the Middle East and in certain areas of India to add flavor to a variety of dishes – everything from meats to salads, stews and sauces. And really, your imagination is the limit to how they can be used and enjoyed. Here are a few more ideas: Salad Dressings. Blend some preserved lemon into it and that dressing will love you forever. Fish. Seafood and lemons are soul mates. Now think about relationship seafood and preserved lemons can form. Till never do us part. Whip up a lovely marinade for your fish with some finely diced or blended preserved lemon or add it to your sauce to drizzle over your fish. Chicken. Chicken and lemon is a match made in heaven. Add a bit of chopped preserve lemon to your favorite chicken dishes and see what happens. Djej Makalli (from Morocco) is probably the most famous chicken dish featuring preserved lemons – it’s incredible! Healthy Grain Dishes and Salads. Think nutty roasted barley or quinoa tossed with vegetables and tiny bits of preserved lemon with a tasty vinaigrette. Or how about a preserved lemon risotto or pilaf? Now you’re talking. Pasta. Buttery pasta tossed with a creamy preserved lemon sauce? Commmme to mama! Dips. Try adding some preserved lemon to your hummus next time. Or to your baba ganoush. Salsas. Next time you make your famous mango/pineapple/however-you-make-it salsa, add some diced preserved lemon to it. Life was never so good. how to make homemade preserved lemons Moroccan Middle Eastern cooking Here are a couple of mouth-watering recipes featuring preserved lemons: Moroccan Chicken with Preserved Lemon and Olives: Moroccan Chicken, Apricot and Almond Tagine: Moroccan Harira So what are you waiting for? Let’s get started! Say it with me: Hamad m’rakhad. Okay, let’s just use the English translation: Preserved lemons.

What Kind of Lemons Should I Use?

Doqq and boussera lemons are commonly used in Morocco. They have thinner skins and are sweeter than regular lemons. A great substitute are Meyer lemons. If you can’t find Meyer lemons you can use regular lemons such as Eureka or Lisbon. It’s generally recommended that you keep them refrigerated. Of course, traditionally there would have been no refrigeration, but you know how it is nowadays. We’ve become germ-conscious to the extreme. But sometimes it really is better to just play it safe. In the fridge the preserved lemons will keep up to 6 months – at least. Meaning they’ll last much longer, but again, that’s the general recommendation for us Western Worlders.

How To Make Preserved Lemons

To get started, select some ripe Meyer lemons, if you can find them. Again, Meyer lemons are the kind most commonly used in Morocco and have the best flavor. If you can’t find any, use Eureka or Lisbon lemons. Organic is ideal if you can find them since it’s the lemon rinds you’ll be eating. If you can’t find organic, let the lemons soak in a vinegar-water solution for a few minutes to clean the outer peels, then rinse. meyer lemons Trim the nubs off both ends of each lemon. Slice the lemons into quarters, leaving the ends attached. So slice down just a little over 3/4 of the way. how to make homemade preserved lemons Moroccan Middle Eastern cooking Put a teaspoon of salt in the bottom of a pint-sized jar. Put another teaspoon of salt into the quartered lemon. how to make homemade preserved lemons Moroccan Middle Eastern cooking Stuff the lemon into the jar, open end down, and push hard to squish it and release its juices. Put a teaspoon of salt over the top of the lemon. how to make homemade preserved lemons Moroccan Middle Eastern cooking Repeat the process, putting a teaspoon of salt inside the second lemon, and then squish it down hard on top of the first lemon. how to make homemade preserved lemons Moroccan Middle Eastern cooking You got it – add another teaspoon of salt on top of the second lemon, and repeat the process for the third and final lemon. Add a teaspoon of salt on the very top. The jar should be halfway full of lemon juice from having compressed the lemons. If needed, squeeze some extra lemon juice into the jar to bring it to the halfway point. And don’t waste that lemon – cut it up and stuff it into the jar. Now pour some water that’s been boiled and cooled (sterile) into the jar to fill it up the rest of the way. Repeat this process for however many jars you wish to make. how to make homemade preserved lemons Moroccan Middle Eastern cooking After you add the water, screw on the lid and let the jar sit at room temperature for 3 days, giving it a shake and turn it upside-down/right-side up a few times a day. After 3 days place the jar in the refrigerator and let it sit for at least 3 weeks before using. Keep the jar in the refrigerator. Whatever dish you use them in, discard the pulp (it’s the peel that is used) and thoroughly wash the peel to remove excess salt. That’s it! Your preserved lemons are ready! *taste bud choir breaks out into a stirring rendition of the “Hallelujah Chorus”* how to make homemade preserved lemons Moroccan Middle Eastern cooking For other great homemade condiments, be sure to check out my Homemade Tahini Paste and Teriyaki Sauce (you’ll never use store-bought of either again!) preserved lemons recipe Moroccan Middle Eastern cooking Meyer

How To Make Preserved Lemons

Super easy to make and the possibilities are endless! See the blog post for delicious ways to put these amazing preserved lemons to to use. Prep Time 10 mins Resting Time 24 d Total Time 24 d 10 mins Course condiment, Ingredient Cuisine Middle Eastern, Moroccan

  • 3 Meyer lemons , or Eureka, Lisbon, etc, organic recommended per pint-sized jar
  • 5-6 teaspoons salt sea salt or kosher recommended
  • An extra lemon for juicing
  • Water that has been boiled and cooled sterile
  • You can make however many preserved lemons you like, but roughly 3 will fit per pint-sized jar.
  • Thoroughly clean the lemons. Organic is recommended. If you can’t find organic, let the lemons sit in some vinegar water for a few minutes, then rinse.
  • Trim the nubs off both ends of each lemon. Quarter each lemon, slicing them down just over 3/4 of the way to leave the slices attached at the end.
  • Put one teaspoon of salt into the cavity of each lemon.
  • Place one teaspoon salt into the bottom of the jar. Put a lemon in the jar, cut-side down, pressing firmly to squish out the lemon juice. Put a teaspoon of salt on top of the lemon. Firmly press the second lemon down on top of the first lemon. Repeat with the third lemon, pressing down firmly. Add a teaspoon of salt on top of the lemon.
  • The jar should be halfway full with lemon juice. If needed, squeeze some additional lemon juice into the jar to bring it to the halfway point. Don’t waste that lemon; slice it and stuff the slices into the jar. Pour the boiled/cooled water into the jar to fill it to the top.
  • Screw the lid on and let it sit at room temperature for 3 days, shaking it and rotating the jar upside-down/right-side up a few times per day. After 3 days transfer the jars to the refrigerator and let them sit for at least 3 weeks before using. Store in the fridge, will keep for at least 6 months (see Note).

* In most countries preserved lemons are not stored in the refrigerator, they’re simply kept in a cool, dark place. I’ve added the recommendation to store in the fridge based on USDA guidelines. Store them according to your own preference.
* Whatever dish you use them in, discard the pulp (it’s the peel that is used) and thoroughly wash the peel to remove excess salt. * USING OTHER CITRUS FRUITS: You can also make preserved limes, oranges, grapefruit and kumquats. The process is identical but because high acidity is required for proper preservation you will still need to top off the jars with lemon juice. Mention @daringgourmet or hashtag #daringgourmet

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