You won’t believe how easy Preserved Lemons are to make, and they are my new favorite secret ingredient in cooking. I know you will love them too. And, they make terrific Christmas edible gifts or hostess gifts for your foodie friends.
Preserving lemons brings out their “lemony” essence, and you can use them in almost any recipe in which you would be adding lemon zest or juice to get a big punch of flavor.
If you have never used preserved lemons in your cooking, you are in for a treat. Think about the wonderful flavor that lemon or citrus zest brings to a dish and multiply it by 100! Once you try them, I can promise you they will become an essential ingredient in your dishes as well.
What are they?
Preserved lemons are simply lemons that have been preserved in lemon juice and salt brine. They have been used for centuries in Indian and North African cuisine and are essential in Moroccan cooking. They add a citrus element and a lemony depth of flavor to your dishes.
If you don’t want to make them, you can buy them in specialty food stores or online, but they can be expensive. A quick search online shows they run anywhere from $6 to $14 a jar. But they are so easy to make, I hope you give them a try. Your family will thank you, and any friends that receive them as gifts will be eternally grateful!
Here is what you need to make this recipe:
There are only two ingredients! Yes, you read that right. All you need are lemons or other citrus and kosher salt. You will also need some wide-mouth mason jars with lids.
Here is how to make this recipe:
- It’s so easy I’m a little embarrassed to call this a recipe, but to begin, wash and dry your fruit.
- Trim one-quarter of an inch off the top and bottom of each lemon. Split each lemon lengthwise into quarters, being careful not to cut all the way through at the bottom. The quarters should still be connected to the base.
- Spoon a generous amount of salt into and on the split lemons and place them in a large bowl or plastic bag. Refrigerate overnight. The salt will cause the lemons to release large amounts of their juice, which you want.
- Place the lemons in sterilized mason jars, mash them down firmly to fit as many lemons as possible, and release even more juice. The lemons must be completely submerged in the lemon juice and salt mixture. If not, you will need to add more freshly squeezed lemon juice.
- Seal the jars and store them in the refrigerator for at least four weeks and up to six months or longer. The longer you wait to use the lemons, the more their flavor develops.
Pieces of preserved lemon peel and pulp after six months.
Frequently asked questions:
How to use them:
Now that you have your preserved lemons, now what? Check out these easy recipes: Pearl Couscous with Preserved Lemon, Skillet Mediterranean Chicken Bake, Easy No-Cook Meyer Lemon Ice Cream, Simple Lemon Blackberry Bread Pudding, and Roasted Green Beans with Bacon and Lemon.
Here are a few more ideas from other bloggers: Chicken Tangene with Preserved Lemon and Olives, Tabbouleh with Preserved Lemon, Preserved Lemon Quinoa with Shaved Brussels & Toasted Walnuts, and Chermoula Baked Mushrooms.
To use the lemons in a recipe, if it just calls for the peel, remove a lemon from the jar, rinse it well and scrape the pulp and any seeds away. Then finely chop the peel and use as called for in the recipe. Prepared this way, it also makes a great substitute for lemon zest.
Depending on the recipe, especially for pasta dishes, I also often chop up the pulp and include it along with the peel.
Can you preserve other citrus fruit?
Yes, in addition to lemons, you can also preserve limes, oranges, and grapefruit. It’s a fabulous way to have winter citrus all year long. In North Florida, we had a bumper crop of citrus this year, and preserving it is a great use for all of the excess fruit.
You can use this same recipe to preserve limes. However, to preserve oranges, tangerines, or satsumas, you will need to add lemon juice because their juice by itself isn’t acidic enough to preserve the peel.
How to sterilize your jars:
According to the Food Network, in order to sterilize jars, wash them with hot sudsy water, and rinse well. Place clean empty jars in a large pot and completely cover the jars with water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Once the water reaches a full rolling boil, boil the jars for 10 minutes.
Turn off the heat and let the jars stand in hot water for about 30 minutes. Remove from the pot and fill while they are still hot. Meanwhile, put the lids and bands in a separate saucepan of simmering water until ready to use (do not boil).
How long will they last?
To be safe, store your preserved lemons in the refrigerator and use them within a year. I am still using a batch I made last year, and they are still fine.
How many lemons you can fit in a jar depends on the size of a jar and the size of your lemons. My lemons were large, and I could only squeeze two into a pint-size jar.
A wide-mouth jar works best.
I mentioned before that preserved lemons make a wonderful hostess or Christmas gift. If you are interested in other edible gift ideas, check out these popular recipes:
- Easy 10-Minute Mixed Olive Tapenade
- Old-Fashioned Crunchy Gingersnap Cookies
- Easy Sweet and Spicy Tomato Jam
- Quick and Easy Stovetop Candied Pecans
- The Best Roasted Pecans
- Old Fashioned Pecan Pralines
- Caramel Corn with Chocolate Drizzle
- Cranberry Infused Vodka
- Homemade Pecan Butter
If you need more ideas, check out my roundup post 31 Easy Homemade Edible Christmas Gifts.
★ If you make this recipe, please leave a comment and give this recipe a star rating. I would love to know how you liked it!
Thanks so much for visiting Grits and Pinecones!
Preserved Lemons Recipe
- 8 whole lemons
- ½ cup kosher salt
- Wash and dry the fruit.
- Trim ¼ inch off the top and bottom of each lemon. Split each lemon lengthwise into quarters, being careful not to cut all the way through at the bottom. The quarters should still be connected to the base.
- Spoon a generous amount of salt onto the split lemons and place them in a large bowl or plastic bag. Refrigerate overnight. The salt will cause the lemons to release a large amount of juice which is what you want.
- Place the lemons in sterilized mason jars and mash them down firmly. This will release even more juice. The lemons must be completely submerged in the lemon juice. If not, you will need to add more freshly squeezed juice.
- Seal the jars and store in the refrigerator for at least 4 weeks and up to 6 months or longer for the best results. The longer you wait to use the lemons the more their flavor develops.