How To: Preserved Lemons

preserved lemons

It’s lemon season and this is a favorite way to use ‘em if you’ve got ‘em. Don’t let the term “preserved” scare you; this is much easier and quicker (really, only minutes) than traditional canning. Simply grab a clean jar; cut up the lemons, stuff them with salt, and shove them into jars and let them hang out. Done.

This process works great with any type of lemon, but if you have the choice, go for the Meyers. Meyers have thinner skin and sweeter fruit when you match that up with the salt it’s a flavor enhancer like none other.  After the lemons have “preserved” add to Chicken Tagine or toss with cooked farro for a flavorful side.

When the lemons start taking over my kitchen counter I’ll make a batch of these for my pantry— and they make great hostess or thank you gift, too.

preserved lemons

prepping lemons

I had to include these shots because my boobs don't normally ever look this big and I wanted it officially on the record.


Preserved Lemons

Adapted from the lovely and talented Peggy Markel 


The following recipe makes one 4 – 6 ounce sized jar of preserved lemons, just multiply if you want to make more. I prefer to make a batch of smaller jars to make it easier to share with friends, but if you want to make them in one gigantic jar than knock yourself out.  A canning jar with a plastic or rubber-lined lid works best.


5 – 6 small lemons, or 3 large


Kosher salt—lots of it.


Pour the kosher salt into a small bowl so you can easily dig in as needed. Cut the lemon from top to bottom in quarters, leaving half of the lemons connected on one end (this way you can open it up like a flower and shove the salt right in) and some cut all the way through into quarters.  I like to do it this way so that I can maximize the amount of lemons in the jar and the quartered ones are easier to wedge in than the lemons still attached.


Pack each quadrant with about 1 tablespoon of the salt. Push 5 – 6 lemons (however many will fit, don’t be afraid to really smash them in) into the jar and tightly seal the lid. If you want, feel free to add fresh herbs or a bay leaf to the jar before closing.


Leave lemons on the kitchen counter or in your pantry for up to three weeks. Rotate turning the jar upside down, then right side up daily for the first few days. They lemons will be ready to use within the first three days of soaking in the salt.


These will keep for up to one year in refrigerator once they are “preserved.” When opening the jar, use a wooden spoon to scoop them out or a toothpick. A metal spoon is more temperamental; it can react with acid and change the taste of the lemons.

preserved lemons

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7 thoughts on “How To: Preserved Lemons”

Just in time! I have a basket full of lemons that need to be used before too long. This is a tasty solution.


What a cool idea. I was curious about what types of recipes pickled / preserved lemons could be used for. Found some great ideas such as soups, bloody marys, combined with olives, artichokes, seafood, veal, chicken, and rice.

I have done the preserved lemons before. But, this time i found Meyer lemons at Walmart, so I bought two packages, and have been using them for everything. Then squeezed and froze in ice cube trays for future use. I am in love with Meyer lemons!

Just found your blog and it is incredible!! love your photographs. I grew up in Palos Verdes, California and am now living in New Mexico, so your blog posts remind me of my beautiful childhood area.

I saw your wonderful article in House Beautiful – March issue – and went to H.B. resources but could not locate the manufacturer and/or store to find that beautiful card table!

Any help will be greatly appreciated.

My table is an antique purchased from John J. Nelson Antiques, his shop is located at 8472 Melrose Place in West Hollywood- hope that helps!

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