How to Preserve Lemons

Okay so this isn’t going to involve much foraging (perhaps maybe for a bay leaf from someone’s garden) but to tell the truth there isn’t too much to be collecting at this time of year. Lemons are plentiful in the shops and this is a great way to preserve them, giving you a delicious ingredient to add to lots of your dishes.

Preserving lemons is common in Indian, North African and Moroccan cuisine and the end results are fantastic – you get a really versatile and tasty ingredient for not a lot of effort really. They should be a store-cupboard ingredient ready for most occasions, and if you make a batch in bulk then you will have a long lasting supply of fresh, spicy lemons that’ll improve salads, couscous dishes and much more.

Once the lemons have preserved for at least 1 month all you need to do is remove them from the jar before rinsing them with water, removing any excess salt. The soft inside flesh can be scooped out and used in salad dressings or sauces, or simply mixed in through rice or couscous. The flesh can be chopped up and eaten too, and is also great to add with couscous or other grains.

We’ve made a video to accompany this recipe, which is embedded below. Otherwise just scroll down for the recipe and step-by-step instructions on how to preserve lemons. This particular recipe was taken from the River Cottage Preserves handbook. Enjoy!

Preserved Lemons – Ingredients

1 kg lemons (small, waxy ones are ideal)
150g good quality sea salt (with no anti-caking agents)
1 tsp black peppercorns

1 tsp coriander seeds
3 or 4 bay leaves
2 x 450g jam jars (sterilised – see note below)

Preserved lemons ingredients

  1. Sterilise the jam jars – I did this by placing them in a pan of cold water which I then bought to the boil.
  2. Wash the lemons then pat dry on a tea towel.
  3. Take roughly 6 lemons and make cuts to quarter them – but don’t cut all the way through, keep the lemons intact.
  4. Rub about 1 tsp of sea salt on each lemon, onto the cut sides.
  5. Half the remaining lemons and squeeze the juice out.
  6. Pack the quartered lemons tightly into the jam jar, then add the peppercorns, coriander seeds, bay leaves, and lemon juice.
  7. The lemons should be covered with liquid, if not add more lemon juice or water.
  8. Add the lids securely before shaking well.
  9. Leave for at least 1 month to allow the lemon rind to soften.
  10. To serve – take a piece of lemon from the jar and rinse before scooping out the flesh and chopping up the rind – this is edible too (if you like). Make sure you keep the jar of lemons in the fridge after opening. They should be okay for up to 1 year.

Preserved lemon recipe

Hope you’ve enjoyed the recipe, please leave a comment below to let us know how you get on if you give this one a try. If you’ve got your own recipe or prefer to do things a little differently then please let us know.