The Year In Food » Fine Seasonal Eating

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Preserved lemons seem so decidedly un-wintery. It’s all yellows and whites, undeniably bright and warm and golden. And yet, it’s a great end-of-winter ritual, to pack the last of the season’s Eureka or Meyer lemons in salt, bury them in their own juice, and let them cure in the fridge for the many warm months ahead.


Do it now, friends. You’ll be so happy to have them on hand in the spring and summer. Their intense, puckery flavor is unbelievably versatile: my recent Preserved Lemon and Chickpea Pasta and last year’s Roast Cornish Game Hen with Preserved Lemons (try it with chicken too!) are both testament to that.


adapted from Mourad: New Moroccan

12 organic lemons
3/4 cup sea salt
quart-size mason jar

Half of the lemons will be preserved and the other half will be used for juice.

First, thoroughly scrub and rinse your lemons. This is an instance when you really want an organic, or at least unsprayed, lemon.

Next, slice one half of your lemons into quarters. Place the first four quarters in the bottom of the jar, flesh side up. Sprinkle with one or two tablespoons sea salt – be generous.

Continue with one set of lemon quarters followed by one or two tablespoon sea salt.

Once the jar is packed with lemons, squeeze the remaining lemons to fill the jar with juice.

Let sit for at least one month before use.


  • Michelle J - Thanks so much for this great post! I am so excited about trying this! Just one question once the lemons are “preserved” and you want to use them in a recipe what part of the preserves do you use?ReplyCancel

  • Kimberley - Michelle: Good question! Many recipes suggest to remove the inner flesh, but I have used both with and without and it doesn’t make much difference. In the pasta dish that I made, I kept the flesh. For the chicken, I removed the flesh. They’re flexible!ReplyCancel

  • Preserved Lemon + Chickpea Pasta with Parsley Pesto » The Year In Food - […] parsley 1/3 cup toasted almonds, roughly chopped 2 cups loosely packed baby spinach 2 quarters preserved lemon, chopped (equal to 1/2 lemon; substitute zest + 1 tbsp lemon juice if no preserved lemons on hand) […]ReplyCancel

  • ROAST CORNISH GAME HEN WITH PRESERVED LEMONS & BAY LEAF BUTTER » The Year In Food - […] 1-1/4 pounds each (thanks to Whole Foods for these fellas) 1/2 small yellow onion, quartered 1 or 2 preserved lemons, quartered (or substitute with fresh lemons) 2 tablespoons unsalted butter 2 California bay leaves […]ReplyCancel

  • Ashley - I just made his preserved lemon deviled eggs. Amazing, as you would imagine. Beautiful post. This was the first thing I made when I returned from Morocco. Such an intriguing flavor.ReplyCancel

  • Hannah - Such a perfectly timed post (again). I have a tattered sticky note on my cabinet that says: ‘preserve lemons’. Now I will, really. I bought a jar last month, hoping to skip the ‘wait a month’ step. Blech.ReplyCancel

  • Lynda - So easy! Why have I never done this? Thanks for the inspiration.ReplyCancel

  • Brian @ A Thought For Food - I need to.. I really do. And I keep asking myself why I haven’t done it yet! What’s wrong with me? Sigh.

    Thanks for your continued inspiration!ReplyCancel

  • Angel - Amazing! So simple! I wanted to try these for a long time. Thank you for this post – lemons will be preserved.ReplyCancel

  • SG - I am going to do this! thank you for the idea!ReplyCancel

  • Stacy - Kimberley, this looks wonderful. I was wishing, of course, that I had preserved lemons when you posted your chickpea pasta dish. I’ll have to do this, and then return to the pasta to prepare it as intended! I have heard such good things about this cookbook but haven’t yet checked it out myself. Have you tried anything else from it?ReplyCancel

  • kickpleat - I made preserved lemons almost 10 years ago and haven’t made them since which is crazy, since they turned out wonderfully. I used a Jamie Oliver recipe and they had all kinds of wonderful spices like star anise, so every jar looked a beaut. Thanks for the reminder!!ReplyCancel

  • Anna @ the shady pine - I love the ritual of making preserved lemons…what would beco e of my Morrocan dishes without these little buties?!ReplyCancel

  • Rootaki - Just like other commenters, I’ve been meaning to do this for years and still haven’t! I will get on this right now.

    Quick question- in your post you say to cure in the fridge- any reason I couldn’t leave these in a cool, dark cabinet like when making sauerkraut or limoncello? Thanks!

    p.s. your pictures are always stunning!ReplyCancel

  • NicoleD - I’ve become very curious about this technique recently and I’m so glad you posted this! I want to do this with meyer lemons before they’re gone. You always know just the thing.ReplyCancel

  • Kelsey - All over this. Sit at room temp or in the fridge?ReplyCancel

  • la domestique - I love preserved lemons on everything, their piquant, salty flavor really wakes up a dish.ReplyCancel

  • nicole franzen - Ive never made them at home, always love them when I eat out. Ashley made some I was interested in making them, now you. MUST MAKE perserved lemons. On the list, check.ReplyCancel

  • JJ - Those look tasty.ReplyCancel

  • Jan - What a smashing idea. I will definitely give this a try.ReplyCancel

  • PINK DEVILED EGGS » The Year In Food - […] week, along with three other fine ways to go about a deviled egg, one of which smartly incorporates preserved lemons. Go check it […]ReplyCancel

  • Susan - Do they have to be put in the refrigeratorReplyCancel

  • Kettle Confections - I usually use fresh lemons in my pasta, but this is unique – I can see how this brings the taste of lemons in a dish to a new height!ReplyCancel

  • Preserved Lemon + Chickpea Pasta with Parsley Pesto: Kimberley Hasselbrink | The New Potato - […] parsley 1/3 cup toasted almonds, roughly chopped 2 cups loosely packed baby spinach 2 quarters preserved lemon, chopped (equal to 1/2 lemon; substitute zest + 1 tbsp lemon juice if no preserved lemons on hand) […]ReplyCancel

  • HOW TO: Preserve Lemons : Solid Gold Eats - […] The Year in Food and Simple Comfort Food offered better visuals of what I needed to do. NOW I get it. You want to pretend like you’re peeling the lemon open so you can assault it with salt (ha, get it?) and then transfer the lemon to a glass jar. […]ReplyCancel

  • Cathy - I have made these before-great! My Meyer’s Lemon Tree provides a great source of large lemons. Try the preserved lemon with fish so good! Would like additional recipes for these “gold” treasures.ReplyCancel

  • cricket nylund - Like all the other comments, I saw this along time ago but missed how to do it.Gratful to find this again. My question is I want to make a few jars how long will thease last with out spoil. Like the other comments do they go in fridge or no.
    Thank you for sharing this post, cant wait to do this.

  • Frankie - Can you preserve Meyer lemons?ReplyCancel

  • Kathi - How long will they keep?ReplyCancel

  • denese - This is awesome, never heard of it before and I am a bit of a foodie. Also, I am very into using as much of a product as possible. So, don’t toss those lemon peels into the compost just yet! Put the peels (any citrus, especially oranges, are great for this) into a large mason jar or other glass container with a tight lid. Now fill the jar with white vinegar. There is no correct ratio of peels to vinegar, I keep adding the peels from my snacks or whenever, until the jar is full of peels, then begin a new jar and use up the vinegar in that jar, then put the peels into the compost. You can use this citrus vinegar for loads of things. My favorite is to add it to a load of laundry containing my toddlers “wet” things, it is wonderful at getting the smell of even old (those forgotten daycare bags!) pee, poo and spit up out of clothes, and even pet stains out of carpet and upholstery. I also like to use it rather than plain vinegar to clean windows, mirrors and any hard surface.After the vinegar smell has dissipated the citrus smell will remain for quite some time.ReplyCancel

  • Preserved Lemon, Cannellini Beans & Chickpea Pasta with Parsley Pesto | Irish Food Nut - […] quarters preserved lemon, chopped (equal to 1/2 lemon; substitute zest + 1 tbsp lemon juice if no preserved lemons on […]ReplyCancel

  • Fire Wood and New Things in the Kitchen « Mad Aster - […] lemons  I can’t wait another 27 days to make some really good Moroccan food.  Look here or here for […]ReplyCancel

  • Observation Point - […] a kitchen full of yellow I remembered The Year In Food’s post on preserving lemons and went for […]ReplyCancel

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