Preserved Lemons- Putting Up with Erin

About a month ago, I found an anonymous stick-it note on my desk at work. The memo read: “Canning Challenge: Preserved Lemons!”.  I quickly figured out which colleague had challenged me, and started researching recipes and culinary uses for these, unfamiliar to me, preserved lemons.  My first thought was sweet lemons, but it turns out that, like will all traditional preserved goods, salt was the agent.  I had been holding out to find some organic lemons, and yesterday I finally found enough lemons at a cheap enough price to justify the challenge.  I found that preserving lemons is (1) quick because you don’t need to water-bath process them, and (2) is somewhat messy with all that salt and juice (I recommend using a widemouth jar).

So what kinds of recipes can you use preserved lemons in?  The recipe blogosphere suggests first and foremost Middle Eastern recipes with harissa paste/powder. Other suggestions include pairing preserved lemons with seafood, olives, cilantro, vinaigrettes, etc. Enjoy!

Preserved Lemons

Yield: 1 quart jar


  • 8 lemons
  • 10 Tbsp sea/kosher/pickling salt
  • 3 cinnamon sticks (optional)
  • 1 bay leaf (optional)


  1. Wash/scrub lemons
  2. Slice off tops of both side of lemon, not cutting all the way through, slice into quarters leaving approximately 1/4' at the bottom of lemon.
  3. Coat entire inside of each lemon with 1 Tbsp of salt, repeat for all lemons.
  4. Add 2 Tbsp on salt to sterilized quart jar (widemouth would have been easier).
  5. One by one add lemons, pushing down on them to release juice and make room for the next lemon.
  6. Once filled, juice should be covering all lemons. Add spices (optional). Wipe rim, apply lids and rings.
  7. Let sit out for 3-4 days turning daily to blend juices and salt.
  8. Store in a cool/dry place for another 3-4 weeks until rind is soft.

2 responses to Preserved Lemons

  1. I wanted to keep the suspense up for a bit, but my cover was blown by your office-mate. Nevermind, I’m just so excited you made them! Is a tasting too much to hope for….

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