April – Preserved Lemons

You could say that my life is coming up lemons. The best kind, Meyers. An abundance has me making marmalade, preserving, and pickling. I’m sharing the recipe I use for preserved or salted lemons. There are lots of them out there once you start a search. And you don’t have to use Meyers, regular supermarket lemons (you will want to buy organic unwaxed ones) make good preserved lemons as well. It will perhaps be a bit more tart but still delicious. It’s easy to make preserved lemons, it only takes a little patience during the curing time. The little jars you find at gourmet stores are outrageously expensive. Start salting now and you will have lemons to flavor your late summer recipes. The Bon appetit website has a wonderful slideshow highlighting various recipes where they are used, find a link here. Preserved lemons are amazingly adaptable and add flavor to many dishes, not just in Middle Eastern cooking. They are a pantry staple at my house. They add a lovely lemony perfume to a dish without adding acidity.

You can find recipes out there for speeding this up, search the web for them if you are interested. This cure takes about 3 months but the results are worth the wait. To use the lemons once they are ready, rinse off the salt and remove the pulp. It’s the rind that you use. Some cookbooks also recommend scraping off the white pith on the inside of the rind before you use them. I don’t find it absolutely necessary. 

My recipe comes from the book The Preservation Kitchen by Paul Virant. I have posted several recipes from the book. It is my “go to” source of recipes for making and cooking with pickles, preserves, and Aigre-doux. The recipe is more a ratio, you can scale it up or down depending on how many lemons are available. I have read that it also works for oranges, although I haven’t tried it.


  • 2 cups kosher salt, plus more if needed
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup herbes de Provence
  • 10 lemons, washed and well scrubbed, dried

This is enough cure for at least a dozen large lemons.


  1. In a large bowl, mix together the salt, sugar, and herbes de Provence
  2. Slice the ends off 8 of the lemons and slice into wedges, top to bottom, leaving the wedges connected at one end. Smaller lemons can be cut into 4 wedges, larger ones 6.
  3. Layer some of the cure at the base of a ceramic or glass storage container. Layer in the lemons, sprinkling some of the cure into the center of each before placing it in the jar. Keep layering lemons, add more cure between each layer as well.
  4. Squeeze the juice from the two additional lemons into the jar and coat generously with the salt mixture. If the lemons are not completely covered by juice, sprinkle a layer of salt over the top.
  5. Set aside at room temperature for 4 to 5 days. In a few days lemon juice will leach out of the wedges and mix with the salt, creating a brine.
  6. After 4 or 5 days the lemons should be covered by brine. Check to see that they are submerged. If not you may want to put a plastic lid on top and put a weight on top. I use a glass ramekin on top of the plastic lid to prevent the lemons from bobbing to the surface (that will inhibit proper curing).
  7. Place in a cool, dark corner, giving the lemons and occasional stir, for at least a month but ideally 4 months.
  8. Once cured the lemons will keep for at least a year in the refrigerator as long as they are submerged.


Preserved lemons

Preserved lemons

Preserved lemons

Preserved lemons

Small jars make wonderful gifts for those who are not blessed with a lemon tree in their backyard.

8 thoughts on “April – Preserved Lemons

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