Preserved Lemons

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I told you it will get lemony here. Try not to get too sour about it.
Let’s go down this yellow brick road and I’ll show you around what I did with those lemons other than freezing the zest and juice, and making a wonderful sorbet.

With this plethora of lemons, I couldn’t help, while zesting, but pick out the best –and the most emotionally unavailable– ones to praise and cherish and photograph. Then, believing that they would rot after a while, like everything else, I decided to fight their sourness with my saltiness, and press all of it and let it wrestle trapped inside a jar, stacked in my kitchen cabinet.

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If that wouldn’t keep those lemons brightly yellow and delicious, I don’t know what will.

I remember making those preserved lemons a few summers ago when I was helping Bethany Kehdy style her new kitchen and set it up for filming some recipes. I made a similar jar and we used it on set, off set, and for whenever she and I we made food.

Having NOT used that jar myself, I decided to make another batch to keep at home. But I don’t remember ever using it and I completely lost all track of where it went! This time, I made two large jars and they’re in my sight.
Those emotionally unavailable lemons WILL NOT GET OUT OF MY SIGHT this time.

The recipe is based on a recipe by Bethany Kehdy from her previous book The Jewelled Kitchen. (not an affiliate or sponsored link)

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TINY-lemon orange squeeze-7815

Preserved Lemons


Makes 1 large jar

  • 10 small to medium lemons
  • 1-1.5 cups coarse salt
  • 2 cups lemon juice
  • Aromatics (optional) like coriander seeds, black peppercorns, cinnamon, bay leaf, rosemary, cumin seeds, chili


The quantities are estimates, it all depends on the size of the jar and the lemons. Follow the recipe as a guideline but not in its preciseness 

  • Wash and dry good lemons, with the least blemishes or and with no damage to the skin (because of rottenness)
  • Wash and dry a jar and set aside
  • Cut the lemons lengthwise from the stem side all the way down BUT without separating the lemon in half. Then cut perpendicularly to the previous cut without reaching the end. The cut should look like a deep X cut (check the GIF above)
  • Open the 4 wedges with your fingers and fill the center with a teaspoon of coarse salt, and them back together and stuff them down the jar
  • Repeat with the rest of the lemons, and throwing in the aromatics in between, if using any
  • Make sure the lemons are packed really well together
  • Add enough lemon juice to almost cover the top of the lemons
  • Put the jars away and shake them every other day to make sure the juice reaches all the lemons and prevents rotting, then you  can start using them after they’ve cured for 3 weeks
  • Use them in salads, or tajine, or get inspired by what TheKitchn recommends

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