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Why Zesty Preserved Lemons Ought to Be in Your Pantry

Why Zesty Preserved Lemons Ought to Be in Your Pantry

Making preserved lemons at home is so easy and much less expensive than buying them.  These lemons are certainly worth the minimal effort they take to prepare.  You will soon find yourself jazzing up just about everything with a hit of their zesty citrus flavor.

It’s no accident that preserved lemons are a staple of the North African and Middle Eastern pantry.  Preserving lemons in salt, water, and their own juice is both economical and practical.  However, this simple process also yields a condiment that is significantly greater than the sum of its parts.

The simplicity of the preservation process belies the resulting sophistication of flavor.  As they ferment, these lemons develop a more intense flavor, enhanced by a subtle saltiness and mild tartness.  Rather than the initial acidic sourness, this flavor is the elegant product of lacto fermentation.

Zesty Preserved Lemons |
These lovely preserved lemons are a marvelous way of perking up just about anything — pastas, meats, salads, cocktails, and just about everything else in between.

Lemons & Patience

Zesty Preserved Lemons |
These simple ingredients yield a superb condiment that enhances any meal.

If you’re  anything like me, your bookshelves are overflowing with recipe books.  You have likely drooled over many a tantalizing North African recipe on a sultry Sunday afternoon.

You may have been frustrated by a quick scan of the ingredients list.  Your eye would have paused at preserved lemons, and you would have immediately realized the recipe would have to wait.

You already know preparing preserved lemons requires an entire month of patience, and waiting!  You may even have tried your hand at preparing preserved lemons once upon a time, only to be stuck with a jar full of lemons you had no idea how to use.  Therefore, you could be tempted to move on to more promising culinary pastures.

What a mistake that would be!  Preserved lemons taste great in a wide variety of dishes.  They are a welcome addition to soups, salads, pastas, cocktails, and just about anything else that benefits from a perky, salty burst of citrus — minus the acidity of fresh fruit.  Like so much in life, preserved lemons are worth the wait.

Once you’ve made your first batch, you’ll find plenty of reasons to keep a jar or two hanging around in the fridge.  If you start using preserved lemons to add a salty citrusy zest to your dishes, you’ll find their uses are almost infinite.

If you doubt the truth of that statement, see below for recipes — both traditional and not — that involve this most addictive preserved fruit!  Bon appétit!


Zesty Preserved Lemons
Zesty Preserved Lemons
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1 ratings
Category: pickle
Cuisine: African

Nothing says spring or elevates the flavor of a dish quite like the citrus notes and sunny color of fresh lemons. The beauty of preserved lemons is that they allow us enjoy a bit of lemony sunshine year-round. Whether whizzed into salad dressing or tossed into a sauce, this salty lemon peel still retains its citrus brilliance.

  • 6 lemons, washed and dried
  • 1/2 c fine, natural sea salt (not processed)
  • 4 dried red chili peppers
  • 1/2 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 c freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 c filtered water
  • 1/4 c olive oil, to seal

  1. Slice a tad bit off the stem end of each lemon, so that it can sit flat. Then slice each one lengthwise into quarters, without cutting the whole way through. The lemon quarters must remain attached at the bottom.
  2. Pour enough of the sea salt into a clean, dry 1 litre canning jar to cover the bottom.
  3. Then, fill each lemon with as much salt as possible, pressing into the flesh.
  4. Arrange lemons in the jar, pressing down to extract juice and ensure that they are packed tightly into the jar.
  5. Strew spices around the lemons, and pour any remaining sea salt over the lemons in the jar.
  6. Add 1/2 c lemon juice to the jar. Fill the jar to just shy of the brim with filtered water.
  7. Pour a thin layer of olive oil over the top to seal the lemons in the brine and prevent mold formation. Close the jar loosely.
  8. Store in a cool, dry spot, shaking regularly to ensure the salt is well distributed.
  9. Lemons must brine for at least 4 weeks prior to their first use. After the initial fermentation, they may be kept in the refrigerator for up to a year.

Yield: 24
Serving Size: 1/4 lemon
Calories per serving: 29.27 kcal
Fat per serving: 2.38 g
Saturated fat per serving: 0.33 g
Carbs per serving: 2.59 g
Protein per serving: 0.36 g
Fiber per serving: 0.66 g
Sugar per serving: 0.89 g
Sodium per serving: 115.02 mg
Nutrition label for Zesty Preserved Lemons

Preserved Lemon Recipes

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