Preserved Lemon & 10 Ways To Use It

When my son Will was born, we lived in an old house with weathered cedar shingles in North Berkeley’s Gourmet Ghetto neighborhood. Our tiny yard boasted some very hardy crabgrass, our small herb garden, an enormous jade plant, and an amazingly prolific Meyer lemon tree that put out a bumper crop of mildly tangy, delightfully fragrant lemons all year.

Although we left Berkeley just after Will’s first birthday, he had time to develop a full-on love affair with the lemons. He’d crawl around in the dirt at the tree’s base, picking low-hanging fruit (this thing was covered in lemons!) and taking bites out of their soft, thick peels with his tiny baby teeth. In fact, “memons” was one of his first words.

Our Meyer lemon tree by Eve Fox, Garden of Eating blog

I had been meaning to make preserved lemons for years, ever since my culinarily gifted friend and food blogger, Kirsten introduced me to them at a lavish Moroccan feast she whipped up for us and a friend. And since Meyer lemons are a particularly good choice for preserving and I had a bunch of ‘em, it seemed that the time had finally come to make my own. The process is extremely simple, though you need to wait about three weeks for them to be ready to use.

Meyer lemons from Josephine Street by Eve Fox, Garden of Eating blog, copyright 2011

Preserved lemon adds a blast of fascinating flavor – it’s mildly tart and wildly lemony. You can use them many, many ways. The basic rule of thumb is that preserved lemons are good with anything lemons are good with or in — salad dressing, couscous, fish, lamb, chicken, beef, stews, and more. Below are ten great recipes for you to try.

Preserved Lemons, Moroccan Style
Makes one quart jar


* 6-8 organic Meyer lemons, washed and dried
* Salt (use either kosher salt or a coarse sea salt, do NOT use table salt)
* Sterilized quart jar with lid


1. Remove any stems and slice a deep X into each end of the lemon – you’re basically cutting each lemon nearly into quarters but not going all the way through.
Making preserved lemons by Eve Fox, Garden of Eating blog, copyright 2011

2. Working over a large bowl, pour as much salt into both ends of the semi-open lemon as you can.

Making preserved lemons by Eve Fox, Garden of Eating blog, copyright 2011

3. Pour a layer of salt into the bottom of the quart jar and then press the salt-filled lemon into the bottom of jar and repeat with the remaining lemons.
Making preserved lemons by Eve Fox, Garden of Eating blog, copyright 2011

4. Press the lemons down to release their juice – the liquid should cover them, or nearly cover them if you’re working with less juicy lemons. You can fill the jar right up to the top since the lemons will reduce as they pickle. Top with a couple tablespoons of salt.

Making preserved lemons by Eve Fox, Garden of Eating blog, copyright 2011

You can also add spices if you like – some of the more common options are bay leaf, cinnamon stick, peppercorns and whole cloves.

5. Seal the jar well and leave out for 2-3 days, pressing the lemons down once a day to make sure they’re sitting below the lemon juice to ensure preservation.

Preserved lemons by Eve Fox, Garden of Eating blog, copyright 2011

6. Move the lemons to the fridge and wait three weeks before using to allow the rinds to pickle fully. To use, rinse the lemons, scrape off the pulp, discard any seeds and chop or mince the rind. They’ll keep in the fridge for up to 6 months.

10 Great Preserved Lemon Recipes:

1. French Lentils With Onions & Preserved Lemon from What Julia Ate
2. Israeli Couscous With Roasted Butternut Squash & Preserved Lemon from Gourmet via Epicurious

3. Spicy Potato Tagine With Preserved Lemon & Olives from Paula Wolfert’s The Slow Mediterranean Kitchen via Epicurious
4. Preserved Lemon and Spring Vegetable Risotto With Grilled Pernod Shrimp from Food 52
5. Moroccan Chicken with Preserved Meyer Lemons and Green Olives from Gourmet via Epicurious
6. Moroccan Meatballs With Preserved Lemon from From Kirsten’s Kitchen to Yours
7. Moroccan Butternut Squash Chickpea Stew from Use Real Butter
8. Chicken & Green Olive Tagine from From Kirsten’s Kitchen to Yours
9. Chickpea & Tomato Tagine from From Kirsten’s Kitchen to Yours
10. 5 Ideas for Preserved Lemon from The Kitchn

You might also like these Meyer Lemon recipes:

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Carla van der Meer

Interesting, thanks.

Dale O.

Interesting article, lemons are wonderful to use in a variety of recipes and have a pleasant aroma for other uses as well.

Roks P.
Keira L4 years ago

Thank you.

Lynn C.
Lynn C4 years ago


Daphne H.
Daphne H4 years ago

Interesting, thanks

Celine R.
Past Member 4 years ago

Thank you very much for these recipes. For some time, I'm very tempted to make "pickled lemons" when I've first heard about them :)

Sonny Honrado
Sonny Honrado4 years ago

Great. Thanks

Ro H.
Ro H4 years ago


B Jackson
BJ J5 years ago

Will try this. TY

Manuela C.
Manuela C5 years ago

gotta try