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Preserved Lemons

Updated: Apr 11, 2023

A tangy bright addition to your tapenades, salsas, & salads.

Preserved Lemons

Preserved lemons, also known as fermented lemons could be considered a secret ingredient by chefs all over the world. Learn how to make this "secret ingredient" at home to incorporate into savory dishes year round.

Why I Love this Recipe

The fermentation process is incredibly easy and includes a handful of ways that you can tweak the flavor profile to fit your preferences. You may consider switching up the aromatics or even the citrus variety. Fermentation is all about experimenting to figure out what works for you and of course having fun!

The flavor of these preserved lemons is incredibly potent that in most cases you will only need a quarter of a lemon at a time. You can use the entire lemon, but the rind is where these lemons really shine. The fermentation process changes the rind from stiff, rigid and bitter to pliable and irresistible.

To evenly distribute the flavor of the lemons, you will want to remove the flesh from the rind and finely dice the peel to add into your tapenades, relishes and salsas which you can then can add to the top of roasted veggies, grilled meats, and grain bowls.

Save the flesh of your preserved lemons for homemade salad dressings. Try blending up the flesh of a quarter lemon with some olive oil, fresh lemon juice, a touch of garlic and fresh tarragon for a pungent vinaigrette to use in your next arugula salad.

How to Make Preserved Lemons Timelapse

Watch on Instagram

Preserved Lemons Recipe


Large Batch: 30 lemons

  • Approximately 30 Meyer Lemons (don't worry about size or the exact number)

  • Kosher salt, about 2 cups

  • 6 TBSP Black Peppercorns

  • 6 TBSP Coriander Seeds

  • 17 Chili de Arbol (optional)

  • 17 Bay Leaf

  • Water

Small Batch: 4 lemons

  • 4 meyer lemons

  • 2 tsp + 3 TBSP Kosher salt (divided)

  • 1 tsp black peppercorns

  • 1 tsp coriander seeds

  • 2 dried chili peppers

  • 2 Bay leafs

  • 4 cups water

Optional Aromatics: clove, cinnamon, cumin seed, fennel seed, anise, fresh thyme or rosemary


15 Pint jars or 8 quart size canning jars


  1. Wash meyer lemons by soaking lemons in a sink full of hot water. Wipe each lemon with a cleaning cloth and return to water to rinse, repeat to all lemons. Remove lemons from water and place in a large strainer or baking sheet.

  2. Cut clean lemons in half lengthwise ¾ of the way down, making sure to not cut all the way through. Cut in half again ¾ of the way down making sure not to cut all the way through. You should end up with 4 lemon wedges still attached at the base.

  3. Add ½ tsp of each kosher salt, coriander seeds, and peppercorns to the bottom of each pint jar. Add 1 bay leaf and 1 chili de arbol to each jor. (add any of the optional aromatics at this time)

  4. Add ½ tsp of kosher salt to the center of the cut lemons and close lemon so it looks whole. Add 2 lemons to each pint jar, or until your jar is full and repeat. (You can smash in more lemons or add a half of a lemon to top of the jars if you wish, but for aesthetic purposes I choose not to keep my lemons intact)

  5. Mix a salt water solution (3 TBSP to every 4 cups water) your brine should be salty like the sea. Add the brine to the jars with the lemon until lemons are completely submerged. Repeat until all jars are filled.

  6. Set sit at room temperature for 3 to 4 weeks, turning the jar upside down once a day to make sure the entire lemons is submerged in brine. After about 3 weeks your lemon rind should be tender and the salt brine should have mellowed out a bit. (These will still be salty but palatable).

  7. Store in the fridge or root cellar for up to 12 months.

Step By Step Photo Instructions

1. Washed Lemons ready to be cut

Meyer Lemons

2. Gather Your Aromatics

Pictures Below: Coriander, Chili de Arbol, Black Peppercorns, Fresh Bay Leaf


3. Quarter the Lemons

Try to keep the quarters in tackt by slicing 3/4 of the way down.

Quartered Meyer Lemon

4. Add 1/2 tsp of salt to the center of each lemon

5. Add Aromatics, Salt and Lemons to Canning Jars

Meyer Lemons in Jars

5. Mix Salt Water Solution then Add to Jars

Preserved Lemons

Store at room temperature for 3 to 4 weeks or until rind is tender. Store preserved lemons in the fridge or a root cellar for up to 12 months, though these will technically last you longer, I find the flavor continue to mature over time and is best when used with in 12 to 18 months.

Watch how to "burp" a jar of fermenting lemons aka release the pressure

How to Use Preserved Lemons

My favorite ways to use preserved lemons is in tapenades, salsa verdes and relishes that I add to the top of roasted root veggies, grilled fish or meats and mix into farro salads. The lemon rinds are quite pungent so you will only need about a quarter of a lemon at a time. This is easy to do since we already quartered the lemons, you should be able to remove a lemon and tare off the amount you need.

The flesh of the lemon is used far less than the peel, but is just as delicious if you know how to prepare it. The easiest way is to blend up some of the flesh with olive oil, fresh lemon juice and aromatics for a vibrant creamy salad dressing.


Comment below if you tried this recipe, we love feedback and seeing everyones beautiful creations.

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