If you enjoy cooking Moroccan and Middle Eastern dishes, chances are you’ve come across a recipe with preserved lemons on the ingredient list.
And while you can purchase jarred lemons to use in your favorite recipes, you’ll be surprised to know that making your own preserved lemons at home is actually a very simple process.
You only need two ingredients to make this easy preserved lemons recipe: lemons and salt. On top of being quick to prepare, you’ll love how delicious freshly preserved lemons taste in your favorite dishes! Try this quick method for canning your own lemons at home to use in all your Moroccan recipes.
What You’ll Need to Make This Preserved Lemon Recipe:
- 5-6 lemons
- Kosher salt
- The juice of 2 lemons
- Bay leaves
How to Make Preserved Lemons:
- Start by preparing the lemons to be preserved. Cut each lemon into quarters, making sure not to cut all the way through, leaving the base of the lemon still attached.
- When all the lemons are cut, pack each lemon with salt and place them in a sterile jar, layering with salt between the lemons and firmly pushing them to allow them to release their juices. Add in a couple of bay leaves, and pink, black, or mixed peppercorns. After placing all the lemons in the jar, top them with lemon juice to cover, sprinkle with more salt, cover the jar with the lid, and seal.
- Set the jar in a cool, dark place, such as your pantry. For the first week, open the jar every couple of days and press the lemons gently to allow more juice to be released. Make sure the lemons are kept submerged in juice.
- Continue to allow the lemons to cure for 4 to 5 weeks. They can be kept preserved in the jar for up to a year if the jar is properly sealed. Once rinds are soft, you can use in the preserved lemons in your favorite Moroccan dish.
How Long Are Preserved Lemons Good For?
After you have completed the preservation process, you might be wondering how long your lemons will last. When the curing process is complete, leave the jar tightly sealed until you’re ready to use your lemons. They can be kept in your pantry for up to one year, as long as the jar stays sealed.
Once the jar has been opened, you’ll need to store your preserved lemons in the refrigerator. You can keep the lemons refrigerated for up to six weeks before they go bad.
How Do You Use Preserved Lemons?
Once your lemons are finished curing, you’re going to be excited to give your preserved lemons a try. When you’re ready to cook with your lemons, start by removing one lemon from the jar and rising it to remove the salt.
Next, remove the seeds and pulp from the lemon rind and discard it or set it aside to use in your recipe, if desired. After that, you can slice or chop your preserved lemon rind to use in your dish.
Tips and Tricks
This recipe is simple to make you shouldn’t have any problems along the way. And with these easy tips and tricks, you’ll be on your way to enjoying delicious preserved lemons at home in a few weeks.
- Sterilize your jar before using. To prevent bacteria from growing in your jar, you must sterilize it before adding your lemons. To sterilize your jar, place it upside down in a steamer and steam the jar for 10 minutes. Use a pair of tongs to transfer the hot jar to a paper towel lined baking sheet, then allow it to dry in a warm oven until you’re ready to pack your jar with lemons.
- Spice up your lemons. After trying this basic recipe, you may be looking for ways to enhance the flavor of your preserved lemons. Depending on how you plan to use your lemons, you could try adding different spices or spice mixes into the jar with your lemons. Spices like cardamom, vanilla, cloves, cinnamon sticks, bay leaves, coriander seeds, and peppercorns can all add different flavors to your preserved lemons to help enhance your recipes.
- Turn the jar upside down to mix. As your lemons are curing, try turning the jar upside down occasionally. This will help mix the salt with the lemon juice, allowing the salt to combine with the lemons inside the jar to speed up the curing process.
- Boil your lemons for more juice. You’ll need plenty of juice to fill your jar, which means you’ll need to make sure you’re extracting as much juice as possible from your lemons. Some people suggest boiling your lemons before squeezing them to extract the maximum amount of juice. Bring a pot of water to a boil, then place two lemons in the water. Boil for two to three minutes, then allow the lemon to cool until it’s safe to touch. After that, you can squeeze the lemons to extract the juice.
- Use Meyer lemons for a more authentic taste. Meyer lemons are a lemon and mandarin orange hybrid that has a slightly sweeter flavor than traditional lemons. This flavor more closely resembles the lemons used in Moroccan cooking, making them a great choice for your preserved lemons.
Other tasty canning and preserve recipes to try:
- Peach and Almond Jam
- Jalapeno Cranberry Jam
- Fermented Jalapeno Hot Sauce
- Spicy Mixed Dilly Beans
- Garlic Dill Pickles
Make Preserved Lemons Recipe:
- 5 - 6 lemons
- 1/2 cup (approximately) kosher salt
- Juice of 2 lemons
- 2 - 3 bay leaves
- 1 tablespoon peppercorns (pink, mixed, or black)
- Cut each lemon into quarters, but do not all the way through, leaving the base of the lemon still intact.
- Pack each quartered lemon with kosher salt, then place in a sterile quart jar. Layer with salt and peppercorns between the lemons and firmly push them to allow their juices to release. Top off with lemon juice to cover, add with more salt, tuck in 2 - 3 bay leaves, and add any remaining peppercorns.
- Place a piece of parchment over jar or plastic wrap, then cover with lid and seal tightly.
- Set aside in a cool, dark place. During the first week, open the jar every couple of days, and press gently to allow more juice to be released. You can add an additional quartered lemon if room allows. Make sure the lemons are kept submerged in juice. Continue to allow the lemons to ferment/cure for about 4 - 5 weeks.
Preserved lemons can be kept unopened for up to one year.
Use the preserved softened lemon rinds, discarding the pulp, in your favorite Moroccan dish.
Once opened, keep refrigerated for up to 6 weeks.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 57Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 75mgCarbohydrates: 16gFiber: 3gSugar: 8gProtein: 1g
Stacey is a Southern girl with a taste for travel, thriving on the discovery of the world through food. After spending many years traveling and living overseas, she’s now back home in her beloved deep south enjoying life with her three little ones and loving the adventure. She’s a food stylist and food photographer, as well as, the creative behind Little Figgy Food, where she loves to inspire others to try new flavors and foodie techniques.