Found a new to me way to preserve lemons - salt packed

Has anyone even preserved anything by packing it in salt? I know this was a way 100+ years ago but today I found this recipe and as soon as I get to the store I want to try it. We use a lot of lemons and living in a northern state they just don't grow on the trees here, and in the winter months they can be very pricey. I buy when cheap and make juice, dehydrate a ton, but this sounds like something to try. Not sure about the salt we use very little and wonder if they will taste salty but I'm willing to give it a try.

Now I'm wondering what other things can you preserve with salt?

Moroccan Preserved Lemons

A unique way to keep the flavor and aroma of fresh lemons for up to a year, ready to bring a bright lemony note to any dish.

Cuisine: Moroccan

Keyword: Preserved Lemons

Author: Stephen Scott


·               5 Organic lemons for preserving -scrubbed and dried to remove any wax

·               5 Organic lemons for fresh lemon juice

·               1/2 cup Kosher salt


Preserving the lemons

1. Slice juicing lemons in half and juice well, discarding any seeds in juice

2. Soften the preserving lemons by rolling them back and forth on a wooden cutting board. Quarter the lemons from the bottom down to within 1/4 inch of the top, open them up and sprinkle salt on the exposed pulp, then close back up.

3. Pack into a quart glass canning jar, pushing each lemon down with a wooden spoon. Sprinkle salt between each layer of lemon.

4. Top off with fresh-squeezed lemon juice, making sure that the lemons are covered but leaving an air space of about 1/4 to 1/2 inch before closing with lid.

5. Leave the lid slightly loose and place the jar in an overflow bowl to catch any lemon juice that seeps out during the preserving process.

6. Let the lemons ripen and preserve in a warm place for 30 days, turning the jar upside down once a day to distribute the salt and juice. Open the jar and add lemon juice if needed to keep lemons covered.

7. After 30 days, make sure lemons are covered with juice and store in the refrigerator for up to a year. The preserved lemons will be good for a year, and the leftover pickling juice will be good for another year.

Turn the jar upside down from time to time to redistribute the juice. Make sure that the lemons are covered by juice at all times.

8. If you notice a lemon has become exposed to air in the jar and has a white lacy substance clinging to it, this is a harmless byproduct of preserving and can be removed.

Using the preserved lemons

1. Pull out a lemon with a fork, slice off what is needed for your recipe and rinse under cold running water to reduce the saltiness. Return the unused portion to the jar.

Recipe Notes

The amount of salt you use is up to you, depending on your level of salty taste preference. The 1/2 cup listed in the ingredients is the minimum to keep the juice brined enough to preserve and protect the lemons, but you can add more if you like a saltier lemony flavor. 

We have fallen in love with the beautifully bright hit of lemon scent and flavor these give with the minimum of salt, and we don’t rinse before use but adjust the amount of salt used in the recipe accordingly. 


Adapted from Paula Wolfert’s The Food of Morocco


  • maimover
    maimover Posts: 359 ✭✭✭

    @bcabrobin this sounds very interesting...

  • seeker.nancy - Central Texas
    seeker.nancy - Central Texas Posts: 795 ✭✭✭✭

    I actually did that years ago but then I wasn't sure how to use them lol. I don't even remember what happened to them 😋

  • bcabrobin
    bcabrobin Posts: 251 ✭✭✭

    At the end of the info online it said they used them to make lemon chicken. For me lemon garlic chicken sounds good!

    But I found this info also.

    Now onto how to use those lemons once you have them. Here are five ideas:

    1. Grain Salads: This is my favorite. There’s something about tender little nubs of preserved lemon in a bite of farro salad or barley pilaf that makes me hum with happiness. Any time you’d normally add some lemon zest or a squeeze of juice, you can swap in some preserved lemon with confidence in the result.

    2. Salad Dressings and Sauces: Chopped pieces of preserved lemon make a fantastic addition to a salad, but I really like to whizz them into my salad dressing. You can also experiment with blending preserved lemons into pesto (as Emily did in this recipe for Socca Flatbread) or into a sauce for grilled fish or meats. (Bonus tip: preserved lemons and fish are total best friends forever.)

    3. Salsas and Dips: Want something new to spice up your salsas and dips this summer? Yup, preserved lemons will serve you very well. Just chop them up into little pieces and add them to your normal recipes. Guacamole, hummus, spicy salsas — it’s all fair game. And all delicious.

    4. Pasta Dishes: A really simple pasta dish with good olive oil, some garlic, and slices of preserved lemons is a beautiful thing. Top it with seared chicken breast or fish for a full meal.

    5. Tagines and Other Stews: Chicken tagine with preserved lemons is certainly the most well-known dish for these lemons, but there’s a great big world of tagines out there. I love preserved lemon in chickpea stews and anything with lamb. Even if your tagine or stew doesn’t call for preserved lemons specifically, I fully support a little recipe tweaking.

    Related: Need a (Vegan) Boost of Umami? Add Preserved Lemon!

  • Obiora E
    Obiora E Posts: 517 ✭✭✭✭

    @bcabrobin Thank you for sharing. I saw a recipe for it earlier this year and read about it in a book too. I had had thought about doing it but haven't purchased enough lemons this year to do so.

    When making Kimchi you add salt to the Chinese cabbage and allow the cabbage to wilt a few hours. Also when I make Sauerkraut I add salt to the Cabbage for the same reason. Salt is an old technique for preserving foods for long periods of time. When I do lacto-fermenting I also use a salt water brine.

    The salt that I use is Himalayan Pink Sea Salt.

  • judsoncarroll4
    judsoncarroll4 Posts: 5,455 admin


  • seeker.nancy - Central Texas
    seeker.nancy - Central Texas Posts: 795 ✭✭✭✭

    @bcabrobin Thank you so much!

  • blevinandwomba
    blevinandwomba Posts: 813 ✭✭✭✭

    I did this with my calamondins one year. They were pretty good. I followed a similar recipe as the preserved lemons.

  • gennywu
    gennywu Posts: 96 ✭✭✭

    You asked what other things can be preserved in salt. I know that salted duck eggs are popular in Chinese cuisine - eggs are preserved in a salt brine. You can buy these eggs at Asian grocery stores or make them yourself. Here is a link

  • blevinandwomba
    blevinandwomba Posts: 813 ✭✭✭✭

    Ooh, off-topic, but I love The Woks of Life! They make chinese recipes so approachable. And they are really good about replying to questions.