Preserved Lemons

Preserved Lemons

from The Lemon Cookbook by Ellen Jackson

Having tried a number of methods for preserving lemons over the years, I think I’ve finally landed on a favorite. The initial period of marinating in salt is transformative, removing any bitterness and replacing it with pure lemon, with a soft texture and pickled flavor. Recipes typically allow one month for this step, but I’ve found this 7-day version is a great start. The lemons continue to mellow and age in the refrigerator, where they will keep 6 months or more. You’ll soon discover that preserved lemons deserve a place of honor amongst your favorite condiments, and will find yourself looking for places to include their uniquely exotic flavor. Try them in stews, hummus, relishes, sauces and vinaigrettes.

Makes 1 quart (6 preserved lemons)


12 small lemons (about 3 pounds), divided

1 cup coarse sea salt

Extra-virgin olive oil


Fill a 1-quart canning jar with boiling water and let sit one minute before draining and inverting on a clean towel to dry. Lightly scrub the lemons. Slice the stem and blossom ends off of 6 lemons and cut into eighths, lengthwise. Place the wedges in a nonreactive bowl. Juice the remaining lemons; you should have about 1 cup.

Add the salt to the bowl and toss the lemons to coat before wedging them into the jar. As you fill the jar, add the salt from the bowl, evenly distributing it throughout the jar. Cover the lemons with the reserved juice, leaving 1/2-inch between the juice and a non-metal lid. Ripen the lemons at room temperature for 7 days. Shake the jar every day, to redistribute the salt and juice. After 7 days, add oil to cover and store in the refrigerator up to 6 months.

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