Preserved Lemons in 10 Easy Steps

Preserved lemons are divine! And lactofermented! I’m so excited to have them back in our kitchen. They add a tangy clean zest to our meals. We use preserved lemons in salads, fish, rice, quinoa, and drinks. Please give them a try and enjoy lemons in their most brilliant form. IMG_5397_2

This is a ten step recipe that takes about 30 minutes.


A note on the lemon type: unless you have access to a lemon tree, you’ll probably get your lemons at the store. Grocery stores typically carry the Eureka variety of lemons and occasionally the Meyer lemon (a lemon and orange hybrid grown mostly in California). If you can find Meyer lemons, use them, as they are superior in terms of flavor and build when preserving. However, they are not always available. We couldn’t find any, so we used the next best option: small Eureka lemons (your common grocery store lemons). Choose the smallest lemons you can find, as their rind is thinnest. Also, it is important to choose organic here. Let’s get started!





Sea Salt

Water (make sure the water has no chlorine in it, as this will hinder the lactobacilli culture that preserves the lemons)



Rock or small plate


1. Choose a jar that holds 2/3 of your lemons. Set aside the extra 1/3 of the lemons.

IMG_54022. Slice the stem end off of each lemon.



3. Slice each lemon twice length-wise, leaving the pointed end intact. It should look like a four petaled lemon flower (shown in the video below).

4. Stuff salt into each lemon cut. Here’s a quick video to show you how:


5. Stuff the salted lemons into the jar as I’m doing here.



7. Juice the reserved lemons, and pour the lemon juice over the salted lemons. (Hopefully the lemon juice comes about halfway up the jar. If it doesn’t, no sweat. The fresh lemon juice makes for the best flavor, but if you were to cover the lemons in brine only, a healthy lactobacilli culture would still thrive and the resulting lemons would still be tasty.)


8. Dissolve 1 1/2 TBS sea salt into 2 cups water, making the brine.

9. Pour the brine into the jar until it covers the lemons. Allow about an inch between the brine and the top of the jar.

10. Press the lemons well below the brine with a weight (like a clean rock or a plate). Close the jar. Tilt the jar gently side to side to let any air bubbles reach the top. (Note: the ideal top allows for the release of CO2, yet prevents the entry of new oxygen into the jar. I use a simple canning jar like this one, and gently “burp” the jar occasionally by opening it a tiny crack. Don’t ever shake the jar as this could introduce oxygen or mold. Let it sit still and develop a great culture.)

IMG_5434Hurray! You’ve made preserved lemons. Let them sit at room temperature on the counter for one to two weeks, or until the rinds have softened. Place in the refrigerator after that time to drastically slow down the lactofermentation process. Congratulations to your palate and your microbiome for being awesome! When you’re ready to eat them, pull a section out at a time with a fork. I like to chop them into little bits and use as a condiment!

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