Canning Goodness: Simple Preserved Lemons

My Meyer lemon tree is laden and weighted down with lemon fruit.  Duly noted that the reason this citrus tree was planted was to ensure that we had plenty of fresh lemon juice for lemon drop cocktails Lemon Drop Martini Cocktails  Still, what does a girl do with a hundred plus lemons? First, she shares  with her family and friends.  She juices lemons and freezes the juice, and is forever looking for ways to use and preserve her bounty until the next season.

I borrowed my co-worker friend’s cookbook Sizzling Skillets and other one-pot wonders by Emeril Lagassee.  While perusing the cookbook, I stumbled across a simple recipe for salted preserved lemons.  Now, I am plagued by my new found romantic notions of using preserved lemons in cooking. The use of preserved lemons is most noted in Moroccan cuisine.  There is other endless possibilities in roasted meats, soups, stews and baking too.

This a perfect way to preserve homegrown lemons flavor in a unique way.

Just quarter, add sea salt or kosher salt and press to close

The lemons never have to be refrigerated, and will stay for up to a year after maturing, and their flavors improves with age.

Simple Preserved Lemons
Makes 1-quart (Can be easily doubled, tripled, etc.)
Recipe from Emeril Lagassee

4 unwaxed lemons, preferably organic, well washed and dried
1/4 cup sea salt or kosher salt
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, or as needed
1.  Using a sharp knife, cut each lemon lengthwise almost through to the stem end, and then rotate the lemon 45 degrees and cut so that the lemon is almost quartered; the lemon should still be connected at one end, but you should be able to open it up, much like a flower.  Spoon 1 tablespoon of the salt into the center of each lemon and press to close.  Squeeze the lemons into a sterilized jar with a tight-fitting lid (it’s okay if you need to squeeze firmly to compact the lemons; they will soften over time) and add any salt that has fallen from the lemons to the jar.  Cover the jar and set aside in a cool, dark place for several days.
2.  Uncover the jar and press down on the lemons with your fingers or the back of a spoon.  Add enough lemon juice to cover them completely-the amount of lemon juice will vary depending on their ripeness( I have had batches that where no additional lemon juice was necessary because the lemons themselves exuded so much juice).  Close the jar and once again set aside in a cool, dark place for 1 month, shaking the jar occasionally to distribute the salt and brine.
3.  When the lemons are ready, the peel and flesh will be very soft and you will see that the flesh easily peels away.  Discard the flesh, rinse the peel briefly under cool water, and use as needed.

35 thoughts on “Canning Goodness: Simple Preserved Lemons

  1. You have a Meyer lemon tree in your yard? A heavily laden one at that? I am very jealous. Of course, lemon trees don't do well in the cold and snowy midwest so I have to \”pick\” mine at the grocery store whenever I see them. They are as scarce as blood oranges around here. I've had the preserved lemons and love them. Your's look beautiful!Best,Bonnie


  2. Any excess lemons I have I just throw whole in the freezer. I grate them over some meals, or they unfreeze quickly for juice if you just throw them in a bowl of warm water. Take care Diane


  3. Most clever!I do the same; but I refrigerate the jars, and turn them upside down now and then.Also, I submerge lemon slices in honey and keep them in the refrigerator too. The lemon slices will eventually become jelly-like consistency, great in teas, lemonade, or any other recipe calling for honey and lemon.


  4. Oh I am so envious of your Meyer Lemon tree!!! My son lives in LA and has a Meyer Lemon tree. Last year I brought home a dozen or so and made preserved lemons with a few of them. I made a chicken with them. Delicious! Love the cocktail idea, too.


  5. Oh, what I would give for a Meyer lemon tree in my backyard! Right now I just have brown grass and sticks that were once bushes around the perimeter. I will live vicariously through you. Beautiful recipe.


  6. I've never heard of preserving them, but they're beautiful in the jars! Pretty enough to put up a shelf on a kitchen wall. Our farmer's market had Meyer lemons for a time last spring and they were wonderful. I've been on a tear for a tree ever since. There is that small problem of winter, however.. . if we have it this year, that is.


  7. Oh yay! So glad you posted this! I too had a windfall of Meyers this year (yay!) and want to make preserved lemons as gifts along with some homemade lemon curd to go with gingerbread. That said – I'll be surprised if I get the time to do one of them;)


  8. I'm so jealous. My meyer lemon tree has given me almost nothing for two years in a row. Although, the squirrels are partly to blame. I love preserved lemons though. They add such great flavor to so many things.


  9. Velva- I love your passion. You are the only one I know who takes on dozens of farm fresh eggs, bushels of fruit, and over a hundred lemons. You seriously rock!


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