BrokeAss Gourmet

BrokeAss Gourmet

Preserved Lemons

I initially set out to learn how make these because I recently got a tagine and nearly every recipe I found to use with it called for preserved lemons as a garnish. I found a small jar of them at a specialty grocery store for $7.99—which seemed sort of steep to me for what were essentially pickled lemons. I read the ingredients on the back of the jar and found they contained nothing more than lemons, lemon juice and salt. Back on the shelf they went and home I went to try to figure out how to make them myself.

Turns out, it’s easy. All you need is Meyer lemons (regular lemons will work but the peels won’t be as tender or sweet as with Meyer lemons) and kosher salt. And patience, because it’s at least 3 weeks until they’re ready (they’re really better after 4 though).

I’ve been using them all week—sliced thinly in tagines or curries, chopped and mixed with a little mayonnaise, cilantro, garlic, salt and pepper for a flavorful aioli or sliced very thinly and stirred into Greek yogurt with a little honey. They’re great—I’ll be making a much bigger batch immediately so I’ll always have some on hand.

  • ingredients
  • 8 Meyer lemons (choose carefully—you don’t want any with brown spots). $4
  • Kosher or sea salt Pantry
Total Cost of Ingredients $4


Sterilize a pint-size mason jar with a fitted lid by dunking it, lid and ring unscrewed) in boiling water for a few minutes. Remove carefully and do not touch until it’s time to pack the lemons in.

Slice about 1/4” off of the end of each lemon.

Juice 3 of the lemons and set juice aside.

Score the remaining lemons into quarters lengthwise, through their skin, but don’t cut through the flesh inside. Do the same thing around the circumference of the lemon, so it there are 8 attached segments.

Rub the lemons generously with salt inside the skin you can touch without pulling the lemons apart (be careful if you have any open cuts on your hands, as lemons + salt = ouch!).

Place a couple of lemons into the bottom of the prepared jar. Sprinkle with 2 tbsp of the salt and 1/3 of the lemon juice.

Add 2 more lemons to the jar, using your hands to squish them down over the first two tightly. Top with 2 tbsp salt and another 1/3 of the lemon juice.

Add the final lemon, squishing again, and topping with 2 more tbsp salt and the remaining lemon juice.

Cover with the lid and ring and screw tightly and give it a good shake to distribute picking liquid. Place out of sunlight (my pantry worked well for this for 3 days. Once or twice per day, pick up the jar and turn it over or give it a shake to redistribute liquid.

After the 3 days, place in the refrigerator for at least 3 weeks (4 is better), continuing to give the jar a shake ever couple of days.

Once the lemons have been preserved, gently remove the peels from the flesh in the increments you would like to use them, leaving the remaining lemons in the jar (they’ll keep for up to 6 months).

Once you have used up all the lemons, the syrupy liquid left in the jar can be used as a delicious flavoring agent in soups, curries, tagines, etc.

Makes 1 pint preserved lemons.

Category: Meals

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What They're Saying

Molly, on Aug 28, 03:18 PM, wrote:

These are wonderful to use to make your own lemon vinaigrette dressing. All you need is three or four preserved lemons, fresh thyme, a little kosher salt, white wine vinegar, and light olive oil. Just puree all together in a blender or vita-mix. Delicious!!!

Mel Carroll, on Aug 28, 03:32 PM, wrote:

This is very similar to a recipe I clipped from the paper almost twenty years ago for Preserved Lemon Marinade, it is very similar to yours except you cover the lemons with olive oil at the end of the week. It is the best chicken marinade I have ever used.
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