How to preserve lemons

How to preserve lemons

If you’ve been blessed with living in a location where you can grow your lemons at home, then you understand the need for finding ways to preserve lemons before they spoil.

Whole lemons are bursting with juice, and it takes a lot of unique thinking to figure out how to use the entire fruit, rind included. Knowing how to preserve lemons is essential if you have a lemon tree in your backyard.

One adult tree produces up to 1,500 lemons every year. Scroll through this list of ways to preserve fresh lemons and decide what methods sound tasty and work for the type of cooking you do.

Fresh lemon is one of the most popular citrus fruits around the world. These sour, yellow fruits with a high acid content brighten rich dishes and easily cut through fats and oils. Lemon juice is an excellent source of fiber and vitamin C.

They are 89 percent water, but lemon juice is known to improve heart health and prevent kidney stones, anemia, and cancer. Whether squeezed for a dressing or peeled to garnish bloody Marys, organic lemons are fruits that we take for granted.

How to preserve lemons(qwartm/123rf.com)

  1. Interesting Lemon Facts
  2. Ways to Preserve Lemons
    • How to Preserve Lemons in Salt
    • Turn Lemons into Seasoning
    • Preserving Lemons in the Freezer
    • Making Marinades and Dressings
    • Making Pickled Lemon Peels
      • Pickled Lemon Rind
    • Fermenting Lemons
    • Making Lemon Jam
    • Creating Canned Lemon Tea
    • Making Preserved Lemons into a Condiment
      • Lemon Relish
    • Moroccan Recipe using Preserved Lemons
      • Moroccan Chicken Tagine
    • Making Lemon Curd
    • Dehydrated Lemons

Interesting Lemon Facts

Lemons are only native to Asia and are a hybrid between sour oranges and citron. One adult lemon tree produces year-round fruit and up to 600 pounds of fresh lemons each year. The fruits are not the only beneficial part of the plant.

Lemon leaves are used for making teas, and the high-acid content is transformed into powerful cleaning products. Lisbon, Eureka, and Meyer lemons are the three most popular kinds found in the United States.

Knowing how to preserve lemons is a task that takes some practice. There are dozens of methods to try, and finding the best way to preserve lemons depends on your personal preferences.

Ways to Preserve Lemons

If you have a lot of extra lemons or juice, you don’t want them to spoil. Learn how to tell if lemon juice is bad and store fresh juice and lemons properly so you have them when you need them.

What comes to your mind first when you think of preserved lemons? Some people think of canned lemons, others think of salted lemons, but there are some unique ways to preserve fresh lemons that you’ve likely never even considered. Be brave and take a chance with one of these recipes for preserving lemons.

How to Preserve Lemons in Salt

People have been preserving lemons in salt for centuries, especially when we didn’t have refrigerators. Salt-preserved lemons are standard in middle eastern cuisine and one of the most well-known techniques.

Take a quart-sized canning jar and sterilize it thoroughly in hot, soapy water. Dry the jar with a clean paper towel. Wash seven or eight whole lemons under cold running water and pat them dry. Slice each end of the lemons to create flat bottoms.

Stand each lemon on one flat end and cut an “X” in the lemon until there is only half an inch left before you cut all the way through. Open the lemon so the base remains intact, and fill the inside with half a tablespoon of sea salt.

Once the lemons are salted, pack them tightly into a jar using a pestle or similar tool. Add another tablespoon of salt to the glass jar and press on them one more time to extract as much fresh lemon juice as possible.

If the liquid covers the tops of the lemons, place the lid lightly on the quart jar. If not, add juice from additional lemons until they are covered.

Store the salted lemons in a cool, dark place for one week. Shake the jar once per day during that week. Then, put your jar in the refrigerator. The lemons are ready for use once the peels are translucent and soft.

Rinse the excess salt from the lemons before consuming them. Cut away the rind and pith and discard it. The lemons are safe to store this way for up to six months in the refrigerator.

Turn Lemons into Seasoning

Lemons are fantastic for creating seasonings, and lemon salt is a huge hit. Rub it on chicken, or toss it with pasta for a bright, lemony kick.

Zest three Meyer lemons with a pestle and mortar. Add three tablespoons of Maldon salt and use the pestle to combine the zest and salt.

Store the lemon salt in an airtight container or plastic bag with all the excess air removed. Add peppercorns to the recipe if you’d like to turn it into lemon-pepper seasoning.

Preserving Lemons in the Freezer

The freezer is our best friend when it comes to preserving foods, like any type of peppers, tomatoes, or pears. Freezing whole lemons is an option, as are slices or juice. The freezer is an excellent way to keep lemons fresh to make lemonade later or to add to a recipe.

To preserve strawberries or lemon pieces, place them in a freezer bag and store them for six months in the freezer.

Can you freeze lemon juice? Definitely! To properly freeze lemon juice, squeeze the juice into ice cube trays and put the tray in the freezer overnight.

Remove the lemon juice cubes from the tray and transfer them to a freezer bag so they’re easy to remove when you need them.

Making Marinades and Dressings

Marinades and salad dressings are some of the most popular recipes to use lemons in. Surprisingly, it’s also a great option for watermelon preservation.

To make a delicious marinade, whisk a small amount of olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and other seasonings, and pour the dressing into ice cube trays.

Once frozen, move the trays to a plastic bag and store them in the freezer. Thaw the cubes to use them on a salad or to marinate meat.

Making Pickled Lemon Peels

Unlike most pickling methods, lemons don’t have to be pickled in vinegar because they are already packed with acid. Pickled lemon rinds are tasty and are eaten from the jar, just like real pickles.

Curing Process

How to preserve lemons

Preserved lemons are an essential ingredient in Moroccan kitchens, where they’re used to enhance many traditional dishes, from tagines to salads, both as a garnish and as a key ingredient. Traditionally they are made with two simple ingredients—lemon and coarse kosher salt—with the salt acting as a curing and preserving agent.

For those who don’t live in Morocco, you can certainly buy preserved lemons online. But they are so easy and inexpensive to make yourself, why not give it a try? Moroccan preserved lemons have a unique pickled taste that cannot be replicated by simply adding freshly squeezed lemon juice.

What You Need

To preserve five lemons, you’ll need 1/4 to a 1/2 cup of the salt and the juice of two lemons. You’ll also need a sterile glass jar that is just large enough to accommodate the lemons as well as a sharp knife. You can prepare the lemons in 10 minutes or less, but the longer the lemons are left to age, the more intense the flavor.

If you’re in Morocco, try to select doqq or boussera lemons, which are sold as citron beldi. Outside of Morocco, Eureka or Meyer lemons are favored for preserving, but truly any variety will work.

Prep the Lemons

The preparation method is a little different depending on the variety of lemon. If you’re using the small Moroccan doqq or boussera lemons, remove the stems, make an incision or two near the top of the lemon, but otherwise leave the lemons whole.

If you’re using any other variety of lemon, remove the stems and cut off the tips. Cut each lemon lengthwise into quarters, but be very careful not cut all the way through—about three-quarters of the way down is enough. This way the quarters should still be attached at the base.

Pack in the Jar

The next step is to pack the lemons with salt and stuff them into the jar. Again, the method varies depending on the variety of lemon. Moroccan doqq and boussera lemons which have been left intact need only to be placed in the jar with ample additions of salt layered between each lemon. If you’ve partially quartered the lemons, pack the crevices with lots of kosher salt, close the lemons and place them in the jar.

Make sure the lemons are packed in tightly so that they can’t move freely. Compress the lemons as you add them to the jar to squeeze them in and release their juices. Add enough fresh lemon juice to cover the lemons as well as a generous sprinkling of the salt. Cover the lemons tightly and set aside in a cool, dark place. A cupboard or food pantry is fine.

The Preservation Process

Every two or three days, open the jar and compress the lemons to release more juices. If you have room to add another lemon, do so. The idea here is that tightly packed lemons won’t be able to rise to the surface. Do this for the first week, or until the jar is packed as full as possible and the lemons stay submerged in juice.

At this point, you now want to leave the lemons undisturbed. The lemons will be preserved and ready to use in about four to five weeks, once the rinds are very soft. You can continue to preserve them longer if you like, up to a year or more.

Using the Lemons

Once opened, transfer the jar to the refrigerator, where the preserved lemons should keep well for several months. Rinse the lemons before using to remove excess salt and any film that may have formed in the liquid.

Use the rind, finely chopped, in salads. In tagines, stews, and sauces, remove the seeds and use the quarters, with or without flesh. Leaving the flesh will impart a stronger lemon flavor. Remember to watch the salt in recipes which call for preserved lemon, as the lemons will add their own unique saltiness to the dish.

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If giving as gifts, let recipients know to rinse lemons well before using (to remove excess salt) and to use only the rinds.

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Recipe Summary

Ingredients

Sterilize two 1.5-liter canning jars and two 1-liter canning jars with clamp-top lids (we used Fido brand) by boiling them and their rubber seals in water 10 minutes. Remove with tongs, and let cool.

Cut stem end off each of 24 to 30 lemons. Make 5 or 6 slits (a little less than 1/2 inch deep) down the length of each lemon with a sharp paring knife, cutting to within 1/2 inch of bottom of lemon but not all the way through. Press top of lemon with your palm to flatten and cause slits to splay open. Gather and save any juices that accumulate on cutting board. Pack as much salt as possible (about 1 tablespoon) into each slit.

Place about 1/2 cup salt in each 1.5-liter jar, and pour in a little lemon juice. Working with 1 jar at a time, add 1 lemon, and flatten as much as possible. Sprinkle in a little more salt, add another lemon and repeat process, adding more juice every so often. Repeat until you reach top of jar (each jar should take 12 to 15 lemons). Seal jars, and refrigerate 20 days, shaking and rotating once a day, before giving as a gift. Most but not all of the salt will dissolve.

For remaining lemons, trim stem end of each lemon and cut in half lengthwise; cut each half into 8 pieces. For every 2 cups of lemon pieces, toss with 1/2 cup salt in a bowl. Fill two 1-liter jars with lemon mixture, pressing down as many lemon pieces as possible and causing them to exude some of their juice. Seal jars, and refrigerate at least 10 days, shaking and rotating once a day, before giving as gifts.

So I Made Preserved Lemons. Now What?

How to preserve lemons

Preserved lemon: it’s not exactly a love/hate relationship with cooks in America as much as love/bewilderment. Everyone loves the idea of preserved lemon: that funky, salty, unique flavor so essential to Moroccan and Middle Eastern cuisine. Preservers love the ultra-simple recipe: lemons, salt, and time. And yet, every time I post a recipe using preserved lemon, I get at least a dozen people saying, “I want to love preserved lemons, but what do you do with them?” Or, “I made a big jar years ago: most of it is still sitting in my fridge taking up space. Help!

There are always one or two cooks, firmly ensconced in the “love” camp, who will respond, “Oh my gosh, I put preserved lemon in everything!” And really, preserved lemon does work almost anywhere lemon or salt will work: it’s amazingly versatile. But telling home cooks to toss it into “everything” isn’t all that helpful, and even the classic suggestions of “tagine” and “grain salad” can only take you so far in getting through last year’s jar.

In an effort to showcase the versatility of preserved lemons, and to spark some ideas for your own neglected jar, the following slides include links to a variety of preserved lemon recipes: starters & sides, main dishes, condiments & dressings, even cocktails & desserts. So this year, put up a simple jar of preserved lemons. You may just find that you put them in everything.

Using Preserved Lemons in Grains and Vegetables

How to preserve lemons

GRAINS

VEGETABLES

  • Artichoke and Fava Bean Tagine from Closet Cooking
  • Baby Collard Salad With Preserved Lemon from Autumn Makes & Does
  • Okra With Tomato, Lemon, and Coriander from Yotam Ottolenghi in The Guardian
  • Preserved Lemon Potato Salad from The Stone Soup
  • Roasted Beet Salad With Feta & Mint from Healthy Green Kitchen
  • Roasted Brussels Sprouts With Preserved Lemon & Aleppo Pepper from Local Kitchen
  • Sautéed String Beans With Garlic and Preserved Lemon from David Scribner for The Washington Post
  • Spicy Cabbage and Jicama Slaw With Preserved Lemons by Mason Jars and Mixing Bowls

How to preserve lemons

How to preserve lemons

less than 30 mins

no cooking required

Makes 2x500ml/18fl oz jars

Fragrant, strongly flavoured preserved lemons are well worth the wait. You can use a tiny bit each time stirred through mashed potato to serve with fish, mixed into rice for prawn curry, or in a tagine for authentic Moroccan flavour.

Equipment and preparation: You will need 2 x 500g/1lb 2oz sealable Kilner-type jars.

less than 30 mins

no cooking required

Makes 2x500ml/18fl oz jars

Ingredients

  • 10-15 unwaxed lemons
  • 250g/9oz flaky sea salt (depending on the size of the lemons)
  • 2 cinnamon sticks (optional)
  • 2 dried red chillies (optional)
  • 4 bay leaves (optional)

Method

To clean the jars, preheat the oven to 140C/275F/Gas 1. Wash the jars well in warm soapy water then rinse thoroughly under running water. Leave the jars and lids to dry, upside down, in the oven. (Or you can clean the jars by putting them through the hot cycle of a dishwasher.)

For the preserved lemons, scrub the lemons clean, then cut each lemon in half lengthways. Cut lengthways again, to divide each half lemon into three long, thin slices.

Tightly pack the lemons into the sterilised jars, packing the salt around them generously as you build up the layers. Poke the herbs and spices, if using, around the lemons.

Press the lemons down well and finish with a final layer of salt. For decoration you could add peppercorns and a bayleaf, though this will not affect the taste.

Leave the jar in a cool dark place for at least three months before using. Turn the jars every day. There should always be a layer of salt in the bottom of the jar, so add extra salt if needed. The mature lemons are yellowish brown.

Once opened, keep in the fridge and re-cover with lemon juice or a layer of olive oil after each use. When you use them the only part of the lemon you need is the rind – scrape away the pith and flesh and chop the rind finely. Try a little stirred into mashed potato, or in rice, served with fish.

Recipe Tips

It’s important to use unwaxed lemons for this recipe as you will be eating the rind. If you can only get waxed lemons, scrub them thoroughly under hot water to remove the wax.

They add complex, mellow tartness and flavor that ordinary lemons can’t match.

Keeping a jar of preserved lemons in your pantry is like owning a valid culinary passport. Crack the lid, scoop out a segment and get ready to travel. Intensely flavored, tender and syrupy in their own brine, salted lemons steer a dish magically to North Africa and the Middle East. Their vibrant and savory sourness crosses borders and cultural divides and bridges religious differences. Because who doesn’t love lemons?

What Are Preserved Lemons, and How Did They Evolve?

When we refer to preserved lemons, we generally mean the sour citrus packed in granular salt, a condiment most often associated with North Africa, and specifically Morocco, where lemons have been cultivated since (give-or-take) 100 CE. One of the most ancient ways of preserving perishable food is to salt it. Why? Salt keeps food-spoiling microbes at bay, and in a hot climate where fresh food deteriorates fast, salting (or drying) comes to the rescue—good for both storing and transporting. The sea happens to be a great source of salt, so if you combine lemon-producing regions with a coastline, you’re bound to end up with preserved lemons.

But different countries and cultures have varying savory methods of putting up lemons, and the following are all technically preserved lemons: Lemon pickle in India could be flavored with a host of different spices, depending on the region. In Traditional Cooking of the Cape Malays ($21.01, amazon.com), Elena Molokhovets explains that the water should be so salty “that a fresh raw egg [in its shell] dropped into it will rise almost to the surface.” In Japan the super-fragrance of lemon-relative yuzu is preserved in yubeshi, where the fruit is stuffed with salty miso and nuts, before drying.

How Are Preserved Lemons Made?

But what about the straight up, salted lemons, so closely associated with North Africa? These preserved lemons are made by quartering ripe fruit while keeping the stem-end intact. Seeds are expressed and removed because they can make the preserve bitter. The lemons are packed into jars and salt is added. Some methods call for additional lemon juice—like this one from Paula Wolfert’s Mediterranean Clay Pot Cooking ($45, amazon.com)—while others do not. The salt gradually draws out the juices in the lemons over a period of weeks to a couple of months, when the lemons are ready. Which brings us to this fascinating question: Are preserved lemons fermented? The answer is, yes! The microbes at work during lactic acid fermentation are responsible for the transformation of the lemons’ flavor from sharp freshness to a complex and mellow tartness, while tenderizing the skin and pith until they are buttery-soft.

You can use any lemons to make preserved lemon. When they are in season, we bottle Preserved Meyer Lemons to make the most of their juiciness and extra-scented, thin skins. And if you don’t want to wait weeks for preserved lemons to mature, cheat with our overnight recipe for Quick Preserved Lemons. Two tips: Scrub lemons well before preserving, and use good salt (never iodized, as it can add an acrid quality to the brine).

How Can You Use Preserved Lemons?

Preserved lemons lend authenticity and a sense of place to specific dishes from Morocco (like chicken tagine), Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, and Egypt, as well as diaspora-inspired influences around the eastern Mediterranean. Added to the tomato-y base of a hearty fish soup, preserved lemons transport it from the European side of the Mediterranean to the African shore in a flash. But preserved lemons are also a versatile ingredient that can be used in myriad of untraditional and creative ways: Sip a refreshing Preserved Lemon Spritzer where the assertive peel is muddled with sugar and topped with seltzer (or substitute your favorite tonic). Use preserved lemons to add body and edge to a rustic Pumpkin Soup with Pimenton. Chop and toss preserved lemon into a bowl of just-roasted root vegetables for a quick pick-me-up. Marinate halloumi with preserved lemons and olives before grilling the hearty cheese. Drizzle a spoonful of preserved lemon brine onto thick yogurt for a compelling dip or a topping for hot, baked potatoes. A simple, soul-satisfying supper is our Pasta with Preserved Lemons and Anchovies. And double the effect of the salted lemons in these Roasted Potatoes with Preserved Lemon, Garlic and Chiles. Preserved lemons complement roast lamb.

You’re going to want a jar of this incredibly versatile condiment on-hand at all times.

Have you ever tasted a traditional Moroccoan dish and thought, “What is that extraordinary flavor that I can’t identify. it’s sort of acidic, a little lemony — but a lot deeper and more mysterious — a bit salty, but almost, I don’t really know what??”

What Are Preserved Lemons?

The haunting flavor, all but ubiquitous in countries throughout the Middle East and North Africa, comes from preserved lemons, or lemons that have undergone a pickling process to extend their shelf life. An ancient method to keep lemons from spoiling has become a cherished flavor — a complex flavor and soft, silky texture that is incomparable. That said, I’m pretty confident that, once you taste them, preserved lemons will start sneaking their way into a lot of your cooking. Not only that, but they could hardly be any easier to make at home.

You only need three things: fresh lemons, kosher salt, and a quart-size glass jar with a tight fitting lid.

How to Make Preserved Lemons

Wash six lemons (you may not use all six, but it’s good to have extras on hand). Organic, pesticide-free lemons are best, but any nice, bright, unbruised lemons will work. Cut each lemon into quarters, from the top, ALMOST all the way through — just leave the quarters attached at the bottom. Put some kosher salt in the bottom of the clean, quart-size jar. Sprinkle salt all over the inside of the lemons, and push them down into the jar, sprinkling a bit of salt atop each lemon as you go. Fit as many lemons as you can into the jar, and add even more salt at the top. (Don’t worry, there really is no recipe here; you’ll use about ¾ of a cup of kosher salt, and before you use the lemons, you’ll rinse off most of the salt!)

Pour in some extra lemon juice to cover the lemons and then place the top on the jar. Leave the sealed jar for 3-4 weeks, turning upside down every day or so to redistribute the brine. Can you add other flavorings? Of course! I like mine plain, but many people add peppercorns and bay leaves, to mention two possibilities. Just remember: Preserving only works if the lemons remain covered by the brine.

After the seemingly endless (but totally worth it) wait, fish out one lemon — with a very clean fork or knife — rinse away all of the salt, scrape away the lemon’s pulp, and finely mince the rind. Believe it or not, what you’re going to use in your cooking is the rind and the white pith…yes, that stuff we are always told not to use. But the month in brine has changed everything, and the slight bitterness remaining in the pith is a major part of the extraordinary flavor. (You can use the pulp of the lemon if you like, but it is REALLY salty.)

You can keep your homemade preserved lemons at room temperature, but I prefer to store them in the fridge. There, they will last at least one year, and I’ve even used them after two years. Just make sure to add more lemon juice if needed to keep them covered.

How to Use Preserved Lemons

Now that you have this wonderful condiment, what can you do with it? Here are a few ways I love to use a bit of finely minced preserved lemon:

  • In any stew that would benefit from a bit of brightness and depth
  • As an ingredient in marinated olives
  • As a way to give somewhat plain pasta sauces a real boost (I use it all the time in shrimp pastas.)
  • Mixed into any cocktail where a little salt and lemon might be used
  • Added to my favorite soups
  • Topping of a bowl of homemade hummus
  • To bring dynamic flavor to legume dishes, especially chickpeas and lentils

Rest assured, once you try it, you will find yourself adding preserved lemon to dishes I haven’t even thought of. But remember to salt these dishes a bit less, because the lemons will add salt even after rinsing. Just keep exploring places you might use them.

I doubt you’ll have to worry about keeping them for a year; in fact, I predict you’ll be making a second batch in a month or two.

Preserved Lemon Recipes to Try:

Since you are even looking at this post, I assume you either love North African food or you have 337 ripe lemons on your tree in the backyard and you’re wondering what in the world to do with them. I offer you three tasty ideas.

Preserved lemons sound exotic to those of us in North America who have never even seen a tree loaded with this bright yellow fruit. Every locale and every cuisine offers examples of preserving their food bounty. I’ve seen large barrels of dill pickles on Pennsylvania farms, jars of pickled okra along the Gulf Coast, and bowls of pickled mixed vegetables on buffet tables in Kansas. When the crop comes bursting in, you do what you can to make it last. Pickling is one of the ancient arts of preservation.

Preserved Lemon: The Classic

The process of preserving lemons is quick and simple — so simple you will wonder if it will really work. The kicker, however, is that those lemons need to sit at least a month before being consumed. Those in the know recommend leaving the lemons to cure for at least six months.

If you can keep your cool and wait that long, the juice will be sweet and thickened, the lemon texture soft and delicate.

Whenever possible, use tree-ripened lemons that have not been sprayed with chemicals or waxed by some over-zealous greengrocer. This is one of the times living in the citrus belt really pays off. If you are not living there, make friends with someone who does and then work out a bartering plan. It is well worth the effort!

Preserved Lemon Ingredients

  • 5 pounds lemons
  • 8 ounces course sea salt

Preserved Lemon Steps

  1. Wash the lemons then soak them in water overnight.
  2. Drain the lemons.
  3. Using your sharpest paring knife, quarter the lemons from the pointing top to within an inch of the bottom. You want the lemons to open up but stay intact.
  4. Sprinkle a generous amount of salt on the interior of the quartered lemon, then reshape it. Repeat on all the lemons.
  5. Place some salt on the bottom of the preserving jar. Pack in the lemons, sprinkling on salt as you go.
  6. As you pack the lemons, press on each one to release as much juice as possible.
  7. When the preserving jar is full, the lemons should be completely immersed in lemon juice. If not, then add juice from a few additional lemons.
  8. Place a tight-fitting lid on the jar and store in a dark place for at least a month.
  9. Retrieve lemons from the jar with a clean wooden spoon. Never use your hands. You could contaminate the batch. How sad would that be?

Preserved Lemons with a Kick

This recipe is a wonderful variation on the standard lemon-in-salt that I learned from Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi. These guys are just artists with food flavors and should be living next door. I would be at their house every day looking over their shoulders as they work their kitchen magic. I’d be asking question after question, sniffing the aromas and licking the emptied pots and plates. Dream on!

Here’s the next best thing: Jerusalem, the cookbook those guys wrote (find it here).

This recipe comes from their book with ingredients and method that are just a bit different from what you usually find for preserving lemons. It is still quick and simple. The following recipe will accommodate a half-gallon jar, depending on the size of your lemons. Reduce or increase the recipe based on the lemons you have available. When we are offered multiple bags of ripe organic lemons, I can consider filling a couple of glass gallon jars. You might as well.

Preserved Lemon Ingredients

  • 6 lemons
  • 6 teaspoons coarse sea salt
  • 2 rosemary sprigs
  • 1 large red chili pepper
  • juice of 6 additional lemons
  • olive oil

Preserved Lemon Steps

  1. Wash and dry the lemons.
  2. Quarter the lemons starting from the pointy end and cutting down almost to the bottom end. You want the lemons to open, but stay intact. (As in the picture above.)
  3. Rub 1 tablespoon of salt into each lemon, then press it closed. Restore the lemon shape.
  4. Press the lemons into the jar as tightly as you can. Seal it with a tight-fitting lid and leave in a dark, cool place for at least a week.
  5. At the end of a week or two, remove the lid and press the lemons as hard as you can using a clean wood spoon. Release as much juice as possible.
  6. Place the rosemary and pepper on top of the lemons. Pour in the juice from the additional lemons. Cover it all with a thin layer of olive oil.
  7. Put the lid back on the jar and store it in a dark, cool place for at least one month. If you wait longer, your patience will be rewarded with more flavor.

Fresh Lemons in a Quick Pickle

This recipe also comes from Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi (find it here). What an inspiring cookbook! This recipe will be ready overnight if you are feeling anxious to get started on your pickled lemons. The flavor is fantastic.

Stored in a sterilized jar with a tight-fitting lid, your lemon pickles will live happily in the refrigerator for about two weeks (if they last that long). Every time you open the refrigerator and see the pickles, you will want couscous, chickpeas, felafel, and more. Then you will want some honey wine to wash it all down. If you get going on these lemon pickles, you will start down a path to all sorts of simple and simple delectable North African dishes.

Quick Lemon Pickle Ingredients

  • 1/2 hot red chili
  • 3 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely minced
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 3 medium unwaxed lemons
  1. Make a paste of the chili pepper and lemon juice. Use a mortar and pestle if you have one. Otherwise, finely mince the pepper — very finely. Add some lemon juice and continue to mince until the pepper is basically liquified. You will not be able to work in all the lemon juice using the cutting board method, but it all ends up together in the mixing bowl.
  2. Add the chili and lemon juice paste to a large mixing bowl. Mix in the rest of the ingredients except for the lemons.
  3. Wash and dry the lemons.
  4. Cut the lemons in half lengthwise, then slice the halves as thinly as possible.
  5. Add the lemons to the seasoned mixture in the bowl. Use your hands to gently massage the flavors into the thinly sliced lemons. It’s smelling good already, isn’t it?
  6. Cover the bowl and allow the pickling project to sit at room temperature overnight.
  7. The next day transfer the lemon pickles to a sterilized jar and refrigerate.

Actually, you will find some clever way to taste test these lemons before they get refrigerated. Enjoy! These are sunshine in a jar.