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Preserved Lemon Recipe

Affiliate Disclosure | in Recipes | by | with 21 Comments

Lemons are my sunshine in winter. I don’t know what it is, but I just love them this time of year. And that’s a good thing, because they’re loaded with immune boosting vitamin C (AND citric acid, calcium, magnesium, bioflavonoids, pectin, and limonene. Not bad!)

Lemons are also great for digestion and their fragrance is known to improve mood. This preserved version has the added benefit of probiotic goodness.  So why not give them a spot on your menu? Although they are traditionally used in Moroccan dishes, this culinary delight is also wonderful in a refreshing lemon pudding, a zesty tabbouleh or  a fabulous preserved lemon and mint alllioli. You’ll love all the uses you’ll find for the rind, which becomes edible during the preservation process. If you don’t like those ideas, here are some more!


  • 6 thin skinned organic (or at least not irradiated) lemons. Meyer lemons seem to be preferred because they are sweeter, but I’ve only tried the plain jane variety.
  • 1-1½ cups additional freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tbs whey (optional)
  • ½ cup unrefined sea salt (where to buy salt)


  1. Scrub lemons and cut them into quarters
  2. Pour salt in a shallow bowl and begin rolling your lemon quarters. Place salted quarters in a 1-quart mason jar.
  3. Leaving one inch of room at the top of the jar pour in the lemon juice.
  4. Cover the jar and shake to release any trapped air bubbles, then loosen the lid so that air can escape.
  5. Leave at room temperature for 1 day, then check to make sure the lemons are completely submerged in juice. Add juice if needed, then cover again loosely.
  6. Store at room temperature for six more days. Shake the jar at lease once per day.
  7. Your preserved lemons are ready!! Use right away or store in the fridge for later.

Photo Credit clockwise from left: Jules at Stone SoupBrad Montgomery and Jo’hs

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21 Responses to Preserved Lemon Recipe

  1. Tweets that mention Preserved Lemon Recipe « The Mommypotamus -- says:

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Heather Dessinger, Heather Dessinger. Heather Dessinger said: new post: Preserved Lemon Recipe […]

  2. Mae Annette Burke via Facebook says:

    You had me at Lemon…

  3. Mae says:

    I happen to know more about lemons than any other fruit or vegetable. They are my favorite of favorites. My teeth are evidence of it too!!
    I will be doing this as soon as we get back from the grocery store. Citrus fest should be happening at Central Market soon too…love this time of year!!!

  4. Mommypotamus via Facebook says:


  5. Jolee Burger says:

    This is probably a very insignificant question, but I am a details person: When you shake the jar once per day, do you also open it to let out the air, or is the first time you do that the only time?

    Sounds yummy!

    • Heather says:

      That’s actually a really good question. When I make saurkraut in my crock I’ve learned it’s important to leave the crock sealed until the process is complete. The gases help the culturing process along. I’d guess it’s the same in this case, although you do want to let some air escape by leaving the lid a little loose so the jar doesn’t explode.

  6. Jaime Nemitz via Facebook says:

    How long do these store once you are done with all the shaking?

  7. Mommypotamus via Facebook says:

    They will keep for up to six months in the fridge.

  8. Jaime Nemitz via Facebook says:

    Thank you.

  9. Micah Wernecke says:

    I wanted to thank you for this great read!! I definitely enjoying every little bit of it I have you bookmarked to check out new stuff you post.

  10. Mama Kelly aka Jia says:

    It is recipes like this that make me yearn for a second fridge. Id put up a large batch every year!!! Sunshine in a jar.

    • Heather says:

      I hear you, Mama Kelly! Since becoming a real foodie I have acquired an extra fridge and a deep freezer! When the opportunity to order items like alaskan salmon straight from the fisherman come up only once a year I like to stock up!

  11. Jessica @ Delicious Obsessions says:

    As long as you keep them refrigerated, do you need the whey? I don’t have any right now, but I am anxious to try this recipe. It sounds wonderful!

    • Heather says:

      Hi Jessica – There are recipes out there that only call for salt, but they use a lot more (salt keeps them from molding in the “in-between” time while the beneficial bacteria is getting started0. Whey does the same thing but you need less of it . . . and I prefer mine less salty. Does that make sense?

  12. Weekly Recipe Wrap Up – 01/22/11 | Delicious Obsessions says:

    […] Preserved Lemon Recipe – I just stumbled across this recipe and I can’t wait to try it. As a matter of fact, I have lemons on my grocery list and I am thinking I’ll give them a try. I’m going to try Meyer lemons because my love affair with the fruit is growing by the day. […]

  13. Weekly Recipe Wrap Up – The Preserved Lemon Edition | Delicious Obsessions says:

    […] The Mommypotamus’ “Preserved Lemon Recipe” […]

  14. Jessica @ Delicious Obsessions says:

    Hi! I’m going to make these tomorrow! Finally got some lemons, and I am making some whey as we speak! One quick question. In the instructions, it doesn’t say at what point we need to add the whey in. I am assuming we add it in step #3 when we add the lemon juice? Sooooo excited!

    • Heather says:

      Yep! Thanks for calling that to my attention. BTW, the rind continues to become more digestible as the fermentation process continues (at a slower pace) in the fridge. If you want to speed it up you could leave it on the counter a few more days.

  15. Alexis D says:

    I know that this is an old post but I have a bunch of lemons to use and thought of this post that I read. Question – what do you do with the lemons once they are ready? Put in recipes? Eat plain?

    Thanks :)

  16. linda says:

    This is great! Thank you!
    Is there a spot where you list some of the things to do with the lemons once they are ready?
    You don’t happen to have an indian pickle recipe, do you? I went to india a few years back and they had jars of lemons like this, but they also had some other things in there too (maybe carrot, mango, couldn’t tell what all was pickled) and it was in a turmeric mustardy colored sauce. They put a small spoon of it onto each plate of food to aid digestion and it was delicious and I can’t figure out a recipe that is similar!
    I asked a local indian friend who has a restaurant and she said she’d never give out a recipe like that, somehow it seemed too precious to share, like a family recipe.

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