The Shelf Life of Preserved Lemons

I found a jar of preserved lemons hidden in the pantry that I made about 4 tears ago. According to various cookbooks,the shelf life ranges from 6 months to one year to indefinitely. The lemons were preserved with a couple of bay leaves,coriander seeds and black peppercorns.Oh and lots of salt! They have remained submerged in the lemon juice.
Are they still safe to use?

  • Posted by: T.T.
  • May 20, 2011


Stef D. April 27, 2020
I have just marinated my chicken in some preserved lemon which has been in the fridge for 2 years.. will it kill me? haha it smelled good - i never opened it in 2 years..
Nancy December 8, 2018
Tangential but helpful tip for keeping them a long time.
One of my recipes reminds us to remove the lemons with a clean utensil...not something already used in cooking or stirring other food avoid contaminating or adding bacteria to the preserved lemons.
Kiterschkes December 7, 2018
Yes. Salt is a natural preservative. Submersion is key as well. The flavor should by now be very intense so follow guidance on major websites, i.e., FoodTV, NYTimes, etc. I have some current jars ranging from 2 1/2 years to 5 years and they are all very heavy with flavor and umami.
Susan L. February 24, 2019
What do your jars look like. I made a recipe with spices that has a layer of olive oil on top. Another without spices in the fridge. The olive oil one I've had on the counter well over a 1 1/2 year. It's looking pretty nasty. "Broken down" (which I think is normal) but if I had to describe it....."slimy" comes to mind. It is still good? Has not been opened. One in fridge looks much better...just cloudy, which I think is also normal. Any advise would be great! Thanks!!
boulangere May 20, 2011
If 4 quarts have you wondering what you were thinking, AntoniaJames, I have 10. Seriously.
AntoniaJames May 20, 2011
Also, I read somewhere (a respected cookbook author, I'm sure, but I cannot remember who) saying that he doesn't even open his until they've been around for a year, because he likes the ones that have aged so much better. I agree. That said, I also topped mine off with fresh lemon juice, which I suspect contributes to their good staying power. ;o)
AntoniaJames May 20, 2011
I have some preserved lemons made about 15 months ago with my own, right off the tree, Meyers and a lot of good, fresh juice, which I topped off every few months until lemon season ended last summer. I topped off the lemon juice again in January. The preserved lemons now are terrific. They're a bit more mellow, but with a deeper lemon flavor, than the "younger" ones. I don't refrigerate them, but do keep them in a consistently cool storage area, away from the light. (I'm still trying to figure what I was thinking at the time, making 4+ quarts of them . . . . ) ;o)
boulangere May 20, 2011
Thank you for asking the question, TT. The same had crossed my mind, but I obviously hadn't run it to ground. I seriously have a lot that have been in the fridge for probably 4 months now. I've used a few, but I need to get a move on. I'd hate to lose them.
T.T. May 20, 2011
Thanks Amanda! Do the flavors loose their brightness,or they are not as lemony? I ll give one a try. I am itching to use them. I suppose I'll have to get some fresh jars going.

I would love to hear some more feed back on this thread
boulangere May 20, 2011
Good to know. I've got some in the fridge that need to get used up.

Voted the Best Reply!

Amanda H. May 20, 2011
They are probably safe but they may not taste very good. I find their flavor begins to diminish after just a few months, even in the fridge.
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