preserved lemons recipe

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Our lemon tree has gone completely mental this year and every morning over the past month or so, we’ve been greeted with a bagful of plump, heavy juice bombs which have dropped from the tree overnight. I’ve been giving away bagfuls left, right and centre, our freezer has been stocked with homemade lemonade popsicles at all times, bags of frozen juice cubes are threatening to take over any remaining space in the freezer and basically everything I’ve cooked of late has been doused with tangy juice or flavourful zest. I bloody love the stuff.

Now that the lemons are starting to thin out and before the long lemon drought of late summer/autumn kicks in I wanted to preserve some of the crop. A little burst of freshness is always much appreciated later in the year and really, they couldn’t be any easier to preserve. This is my basic preserved lemon recipe, however you can really go to town on the flavourings if you like. Add in some fennel or caraway seeds for a little something something, crushed dried chillies will give a touch more heat than the whole ones I’ve used, sticks of cinnamon always goes down a treat and I’m often inclined to add a few bruised cardamom pods or whole black peppercorns to the mix, just because. Not that it’s what I had in mind when making these (I’m trying my hardest to ignore the fact that Christmas is just around the corner!), but smaller jars of these would also make great gifts…

Preserved lemons
I packed these into two large jars (I think they’re just under 1 litre capacity), but you could always pack them into 4 smaller jars if preferred. Because it’s the skin of the fruit that is eaten, please ensure you use spray-free or organic lemons. Or if you see a laden tree in your neighbourhood, ask the owner if you can take a few! Maybe you could drop a jar of these off to them in return…
Makes 2 large jars


6 large (1.5kg) lemons, preferably organic
500g rock salt
8 bay leaves, fresh if available
3 teaspoon coriander seeds
handful small dried chillies
lemon juice, to cover

Wash lemons and cut each in half lengthwise. Cut each half in half again, lengthwise, making sure that you leave just a little bit intact at the top to hold the quarters together. Roughly squeeze most of the juice out of each lemon half with your hands, collecting the juice in a glass bowl and reserve. Combine salt, bay leaves, coriander seeds and chillies in a large bowl, add squeezed lemon halves and mix well with your hands to evenly distribute the salt. 

Pack the lot into sterilised jars*, evenly dividing all the salt and flavourings between the two jars (or more if you are using smaller jars). Pour enough freshly squeezed lemon juice over the lemons to fully cover, you may need to juice a few extra lemons. I often wrap a smaller lid with baking paper and press this into the top of the jar, helping to keep the lemons submerged in liquid, but if your jar is totally full then you may not need to do this. Screw the lid on tightly and place in a dark, cool place for 3 weeks before using. Once opened keep in the fridge. To use, scrape off the flesh and discard, rinse then finely chop the skin. A little goes a long way. I like to use it to flavour things like vegetarian tagines and mayonnaise and it’s also lovely added to salad dressings.

* To sterilise jars, wash them well in hot soapy water, rinse and place into a preheated oven at 120C (248F) for 20 minutes. Sterilise lids in boiling water for 5 minutes.


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16 Comments

  • Reply
    Maureen
    November 28, 2014 at 5:56 am

    I love preserved lemons but sadly I have no lemon tree of my own. I have lemon envy, I can tell you!

  • Reply
    Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar
    November 28, 2014 at 6:04 am

    I've always wanted to do this – the jars are so pretty!

  • Reply
    Karishma
    November 28, 2014 at 5:30 pm

    This is such a great idea for an abundance of lemons! Any specific things you use the preserves for?

    • Reply
      emma
      December 1, 2014 at 3:37 am

      I'm not sure I've got any recipes on here that use them, but I do often add them to salad dressings in particular xx

  • Reply
    Kari @ Cooking with Toddlers
    November 28, 2014 at 8:08 pm

    Reading this beautiful post makes me yearn for lemon season again!

  • Reply
    Millie | Add A LIttle
    November 28, 2014 at 8:33 pm

    How delicious – they give AMAZING flavour in tagine – takes me back to the time I went to Morocco!!

  • Reply
    Dixya
    November 30, 2014 at 3:38 am

    love preserved lemons and olives together – this is lovely.

  • Reply
    InTolerant Chef
    November 30, 2014 at 9:32 am

    I love preserved lemons and well have to make some now you've shown me how easy they are 🙂 My Lennon tree is yet to fruit, but it's had a lot if new growth this year,so here's hoping for next season x

  • Reply
    Liv the Chiwi
    November 30, 2014 at 6:45 pm

    Hi! Does the rock salt need to be ground before using in this recipe? Also, would dried bay still work? 🙂

    • Reply
      emma
      December 1, 2014 at 2:52 am

      Hey love, the rock salt dissolves in the lemon juice after a few days, so no need to grind it up and yes, dried bay leaves are totally fine 🙂 xx

  • Reply
    Talia Sue
    November 30, 2014 at 8:46 pm

    These look so pretty. I preserved some lemons a few weeks back. I must go check them now!

  • Reply
    Lizzy (Good Things)
    December 4, 2014 at 6:42 am

    Emm, how delicious that your tree is flourishing so beautifully! I waited a lifetime to have a lemon tree, true. Now I have three of them in pots on my porch… with some TLC and a little fish emulsion they're going great guns… I will have to look to your lovely recipe for preserving some of them! Thanks for sharing xo

  • Reply
    Gamma @BoilAndTrouble
    December 5, 2014 at 6:20 am

    Living in the tropics, were we have fresh fruits all year round, I have never tried preserved lemons. I'm sure I'll love them, but could you give us suggestions as to how to use them?

    • Reply
      emma
      December 5, 2014 at 8:02 am

      There's some suggestions at the end of the recipe, or have a google. Loads of recipes use them xx

    • Reply
      Gamma @BoilAndTrouble
      December 7, 2014 at 4:33 am

      Thanx for the feedback! I think the mayonnaise is a great idea. I'll definitely try it!

  • Reply
    kankana
    December 17, 2014 at 3:07 pm

    oh how I wish I cold grow a lemon tree! That many lemons must have surely made your house super flavorful. Who needs artificial room fresher right?! 🙂

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