Preserved Lemons

Preserved Lemons

Preserved lemons, or lemon pickle, is a staple in every kitchen from South Asia to the North African deserts. It's a condiment that adds vibrant flavor and nutritional goodness to just about any type of meat, fish or chicken. In Moroccan cuisine, it is used to garnish lamb or veggie tagines (a kind of hot pot dish). It's delicious on ice cream and sweet fruit pies or tarts, and turns an ordinary salad into a gourmet experience. The lemony flavor becomes intense and adds new notes to everyday dishes -- the ideal condiment to have on hand.
Course Side Dish
Servings 1 cup


  • 5 Lemons substitute Meyer lemons for a slightly different flavour
  • 1/4 cup Salt may use kosher salt


  • Using a sharp, small knife, cut one end off each lemon so that it's flat.
  • Now, cut each into quarters from the cut (flat) end to within about 1/2-inch of the other end, leaving the uncut end intact.
  • Work the salt into all the exposed flesh of the lemons, taking care to leave them intact at the one end. When you are done, squeeze them loosely back together.
  • Add salt to a sterilized jar, covering the bottom of the jar.
  • Begin adding the lemons, pushing them into the bottom so that the juices are also released.
  • Sprinkle more salt between the layers.
  • If you are adding other spices, add them along with the salt between layers of lemons. Fill the jar to within about 1/2-3/4-inch of the top.
  • The squeezed lemon juice should cover all the lemons and salt. You can cover the jars and leave them in the fridge overnight to allow more juice to be released. If it does not, add more freshly squeezed lemon juice to cover.
  • Seal the jar.
  • Fridge method: store in the fridge for at least 2 weeks and up to 6 months to cure.
  • Traditional method: let it ripen in a warm place. A windowsill that gets a lot of sun is a good bet. shake the jars each day to ensure an even distribution of salt. Ripen for at least 30 days.
  • To use: remove from the jar and rinse off excess salt.


Makes about 1 1/2 cups The preserved version will last in your fridge for up to 1 year. You can reuse the pickling juices 2 or 3 times within a year. The Indian version of pickled lemons adds about twice the amount of salt, along with turmeric, fenugreek, and chili powder. The Safi version adds a cinnamon stick, coriander seeds, black peppercorns, and a bay leaf.
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