With just two simple ingredients these preserved lemons are not only incredibly simple to make but add a powerful punch of flavor to any dish!
Have you ever heard of preserved lemons? Well let me tell you about them. For generations our ancestors have been figuring out creative ways to extend the life of produce. These preserved lemons, also called pickled lemons, are a perfect example of how some things are worth the wait!
The fermenting process decreased the bitterness and sharpness from the fresh fruit, leaving a punchy, intense lemony flavor with a salt umami finish. Perfect for adding flavor, salt and acidity to any recipe!
What are preserved lemons?
Preserved lemons, also called pickled lemons or fermented lemons, are basically lemons that have been packed in a salty brine and allowed to ferment until they are soft and succulent.
They are especially common in North African and Middle Eastern cuisines and add beautiful flavor, salt and tang to a variety of stews, sauces and tagines.
Unlike fresh lemons, the bitter sharpness of the original fruit is mellowed through the fermentation process, leaving an intense lemon flavor with a salty umami quality. Basically they are delicious!
Other preserving recipes for you to check out.
You will need a cutting board and knife and a large glass storage jar with a lid.
- Lemons: I recommend using seedless lemons if you have them available so that you don't have to mess with removing seeds before using. Meyer lemons also work great and you can totally use regular seeded lemons as well.
- Kosher sea salt: You want to pick a high quality sea salt with no additives if possible. I usually use Ball's pickling and preserving salt.
Time needed: 10 minutes.
How to make preserved lemons at home:
- Thoroughly wash the lemons.
- Cut the ends off of the lemons, about ¼th inch. Then cut into quarters leaving the end in tact.
- Pack the insides of the lemons with kosher sea salt.
- Pack the lemons in layers in a large glass jar.
This depends quite a bit on personal preference. Once brined, I tend to leave me lemons on t he counter for about 5 days before transferring to the fridge, and then giving it another week or two before using.
Others prefer to wait closer to 3 weeks before using, and some will wait over a month.
As the lemons continue to ferment they will become softer and the lemony flavor will become event more concentrated.
Feel free to experiment to see what timeline works best for your lifestyle and palate.
Yes, definitely! This recipe is for pure and simple preserved lemons. But I also recommend adding a bay leaf, peppercorns, cumin seeds, or even a cinnamon stick to the jar for added flavor. Feel free to get creative!
The rule of thumb for preserved lemons is that they last about 6 months in the fridge, give or take.
I prefer preserving the whole lemon as that is what I most commonly use in recipes. However, yes you can feel free to cut the lemon how you'd like, whether that be in thick slices or wedges. Just be sure that they are completely coated in salt and submerged in the brine.
What can I make with preserved lemons?
Preserve lemons add both salt and acidity to any dish they are added to, so feel free to get creative.
I personally love adding them to meat marinades, salads, dressings and tapenade. They are also fantastic on roast fish.
Try out these delicious recipes using homemade preserved lemons:
Preserved Lemon Dressing
Made these Preserved Lemons? Let me know what you think in the comments!
- Cutting board and knife
- large glass jar with a lid
- 8-10 lemons, I recommend using seedless lemons but any lemon will work
- ¾ cup kosher sea salt
- Use a sharp knife to cut the ends off both sides of the lemon, about ¼th inch. Then cut each lemon lengthwise into quarters, being sure not to cut all the way through so that the lemons quarters are still connected at the base. Fill each lemon with a spoonful of salt. Then add a large spoonful of salt to the bottom of a large mason jar or other glass storage container. Place the salted lemons into the glass jar in layers, sprinkling a little more salt before you add each additional layer of lemons. When all the lemons are in the jar sprinkle a little more salt over the top. Then use a clean fist to press down on the lemons, compacting them and allowing them to release more juices.
- Cover the jar and store at room temperature for about 3-5 days, shaking a few times to distribute the salt and juice. *By the second day the lemons should be pretty much submerged in juice.*After 3-5 days transfer the jar to the fridge for at least another week and up to 6 months. The lemons will continue to develop flavor as they ferment and you can use the entire lemon peel and pith in recipes. Enjoy!