Kitchen Experiments: Preserving Lemons

Kitchen Experiments: Preserving Lemons

Emma Christensen
Apr 19, 2011
Have you ever preserved lemons? This was my first attempt, and I have to say, it's way easier than I expected! All you need is a clean canning jar, some salt, and a bowl of lemons. Recipes for preserved lemons abound (even on The Kitchn!), but you hardly need one. All you do is trim the tip and bottom from the lemons, and slice them in quarters almost all the way through, so the segments are still attached at the base. Then spoon as much salt as you can into the cuts and jam them into a canning jar. Cover them with lemon juice, screw on the lid, and 3-4 weeks later, you have preserved lemons.

That's it! I made a whole jar in about fifteen minutes. Over the next few weeks, I'll shake the jar every so often to make sure the salt is evenly distributed and watch for the rinds to get very soft. These preserved lemons will keep refrigerated for up to a year.

I just used plain kosher salt for this round, but you can also add spices like cloves, cinnamon, and coriander seeds. These spices will infuse into the lemons as they preserve, adding their own flavors and aromas. Both the rind and the pulp are edible after preserving. For this reason, I'd recommend finding organic lemons without any coating on their skin.

Wondering what to do with these lemons after you've preserved them? Preserved lemons are a signature flavor in Moroccan cuisine, and I'm looking forward to using them to make chicken tagines, pilafs, and lamb stews. I'm also thinking of using them in summer salsas and relishes, thinly sliced with fish, or as a simple garnish for burgers.

Have you ever preserved lemons? What do you like to do with them?

Related: Hot and Steamy: A Visual Tutorial of Hot Water Bath Canning

(Images: Emma Christensen)

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