How do you make preserved lemons?

  • Posted by: Fay
  • February 12, 2012


Fay February 14, 2012
Thank You Creamtea:
This recipe sounds yummy!
creamtea February 14, 2012
You're welcome! It's from Paula Wolfert's first book on Moroccan cooking, Couscous and Other Good Foods from Morocco. (Recently reprinted and revised).
creamtea February 14, 2012
Paula Wolfert's recipe is the classic, and if you want to make it special, you can add the optional Safi spices, which make them lovely and fragrant. 5 lemons, quartered to within 1/2 inch of the bottom (leaving them still attached) (buy plenty of extra lemons to squueze extra lemon juice to add to the jar) to 1/4 cup salt (non-iodized). For me, kosher salt was too coarse and did not absorb as readily as a finer salt to make the rinds soft and silky, but I know others use it. Sprinkle a good amount of the salt into each partially-opened lemon, re-form them, put 1 tablespoon of salt in the bottom of a mason jar. Pack the lemons in, salting in between, and push them down to release the juice. Layer with the optional spices: 1 cinnamon stick, 3 cloves (the spice, not garlic), 5-6 coriander seeds, 3-4 black peppercorns, 1 bay leaf. these spices make them extra special. Fill with freshly squeezed juice and whatever salt is left, leaving a little air space at the top, cap them. Keep in a warm spot, and shake every day for 30 days. They don't need to be refrigerated. A lacy substance clinging to the lemons in the last weeks is nothing to worry about. Rinse before use. I use both pulp and rind, but some discard the pulp.
Pegeen February 14, 2012
This sounds delicious - will save it. Thanks for posting it!
creamtea February 14, 2012
You're welcome, Pegeen. Now I need to put up a batch.
Fay February 13, 2012
Thanks Pegeen, Your recipe sound alot easier.
Pegeen February 14, 2012
You're welcome! I meant to add that is basically the recipe I read in Foods of Morocco by Paula Wolfert. Also, that as you use up the lemons in the jar, you of course can't replace them with new lemons. You have to start a new jar. Hope they turn out well for you.
Pegeen February 13, 2012
The traditional Moroccan recipe calls for brining the lemons in lemon juice and kosher salt for 30 days. (There are often no other added spices.) If you don't have 30 days, I agree with "Healthier Kitchen" - just use lemon zest. I tried Mark Bittman's recipe ( for "same day" preserved lemons and had a problem with what was probably wax on the lemons making the dish extremely bitter and uneatable. Next time I'll try organic, unwaxed lemons or Meyer lemons. But the dish will probably be very tasty just using lemon zest.
If you want to try the 30-day version: You need a glass jar (or some non-metal container) with a tight lid. Use organic (unwaxed) or Meyer (unwaxed) lemons. Cut them into quarters, slicing nearly to the bottom but not all the way, so the lemon is still whole. Sprinkle the insides of the quarters with kosher salt (not iodized table salt) and pack them tightly in the container, adding a little salt on top of each lemon as you pack it in. Cover with fresh lemon juice nearly to the top.Try to turn it upside down every day for 30 days. IMPORTANT: Rinse each lemon in clean water thoroughly before using! Usually, you use only the rind and cut away the lemon pulp. As you remove lemons from the jar, top off the jar with more fresh lemon juice or plain water.
healthierkitchen February 13, 2012
Like susan g, I use just salt and lemons, with extra lemon juice to cover. I used a recipe once a few years ago with olive oil and didn't really like how once refrigerated, the olive oil solidifies. Using just the salt in the lemons and then the juice from a few more lemons creates a great consistency and lemon flavor that you can use in anything. I've never tried Bittman's short method, but would probably just use zest if I didn't have any lemons preserved.
Fay February 12, 2012
Hi Susan:

I checked out Cordelias recipe, Garlic is not listed in the ingredients, only in the directions, so you don't know how much to use, and bay leaves are listed twice, once say 4 the next time 2?
i would appreciate it if you could clarify the recipe for me
susan G. February 12, 2012
The only way I have made preserved lemons uses only salt and lemons. Has anyone else made it with Cordelia's sort of flavoring?
My idea was for you to see what she was using in the carrots. And if you want to check it, her recipe for Harissa is also on food52.
And, if you want to complicate things further, search here (upper right) for "preserved lemons" and you will see several more! When I made them, I compared recipes from several sources and prepared them by consensus.
Here's a question from yesterday that might be interesting for you.
Fay February 12, 2012
Thanks patticakes, I will also check out Cordelias recipe!
susan G. February 12, 2012
Here's how Cordelia makes them --
Patticakes February 12, 2012
Slice or quarter clean, thin skinned lemons. Remove seeds. Layer in a clean jar, sprinkling with kosher salt between layers. Fill as much as possible pressing on lemons. Add a final healthy teaspoon of salt and fill jar with canola oil to cover. Place in a cool spot of your kitchen for several days then refrigerate.
Fay February 12, 2012
thanks Patticakes, I will also check out Cordelia's recipe.
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