Preserved lemons

Preserved lemons
  • Serves icon Makes 1 large/a few smaller jars
  • Time icon Hands-on time 10 min, plus 4-5 weeks fermenting

With only two basic ingredients and some imaginative flavourings, preserved lemons are storecupboard stars. Make a jar or two with our easy recipe.

Once your preserved lemons are ready, try them in our recipe for slow-braised lamb shoulder.

Nutrition: per serving

Calories
4kcals
Fat
trace (no saturated)
Protein
0.1g
Carbohydrates
0.4g (0.4g sugars)
Fibre
trace
Salt
2.3g
Calories
4kcals
Fat
trace (no saturated)
Protein
0.1g
Carbohydrates
0.4g (0.4g sugars)
Fibre
trace
Salt
2.3g

Ingredients

  • 12 small unwaxed lemons (about 1kg; see tips)
  • 200g pure salt
  • 8-10 mixed peppercorns
  • 2 fresh bay leaves
  • 1 chilli, halved (optional)

You’ll also need

  • 1 large jar (around 1.5 litres) or a few smaller jars, washed and sterilised

Method

  1. Juice 4 of the lemons and set the juice aside. Cut the rest of the lemons lengthways into quarters, stopping three quarters of the way through so the wedges are still attached at one end.
  2. Sprinkle about 2 tsp salt onto the cut sides of each lemon, then layer in the jar(s) with the peppercorns, bay, chilli (if using) and any remaining salt. Press the lemons to help them release their juice, then pour in the reserved juice to cover. (If necessary, top up with filtered or boiled-and-cooled water to ensure the lemons are fully covered.)
  3. Close the jar and set aside for 4-5 weeks in a cool spot, away from direct sunlight. Invert the jar every day for the first week or so to make sure the brine is evenly dispersed. The sealed jar(s) will keep for several months. Chill once opened and use within a couple of months.

delicious. tips

  1. Meyer lemons, if you can find them, best approximate the Moroccan doqq or boussera varieties usually used for preserving. Meyer lemons’ thin skin and sweetness mean you can use the whole lemon – skin, flesh and all. If you can’t get hold of them, eureka lemons also work well, but be sure to use unwaxed, ideally organic, fruit.

    Learn how to sterilise jars.

  2. How to prepare preserved lemons: Most recipes using preserved lemons in a dish call for the skin of the lemon only. To prepare them, fully quarter the preserved lemons, then run a sharp knife along the inside of each piece to remove the flesh and bitter pith, leaving just the tender skin. Slice, chop or crush the skin, as needed for your recipe.

    Depending on your taste for bitterness, you can use the whole lemon, flesh and all, for some recipes – especially in roasts or when whizzing into butters or marinades. Regardless of the preparation, always remove the pips.

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