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Preserved Lemons

Post date: 26 Jul 2021

This is not so much a recipe as so much as a series of directions, but then again, what is a recipe!! Writing this up for a friend who’s asked for a solution to the many Meyer Lemons she’s gifted from other people’s trees.


  • lemons
  • salt, ideally Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt


  • wide mouth mason jar– 12-15 normal sized lemons fit preserved into one 32 oz jar
  • pickling weight–I love glass wide mouth pickle weights like these. They’re easy to use. Alternatively, if you don’t pickle often you can fill a small plastic bag with 5% salt brine and use that.


  • Wash all lemons. Set two aside for adding extra juice.
  • Cut lemons lengthwise in half but do not cut all the way through. Leave a little attached at the base.
  • Then make another cut the other way as if you were cutting the lemon into quarters, but also not all the way through.

End result should look something like:


  • Salt all exposed edges of the lemon generously, enough so that you can mostly see salt and not see the lemon flesh itself. For an average sized lemon, this usually takes ~1 tablespoon of diamond crystal kosher salt
  • Gently open the lemon and squish it down into your mason jar cut side down. Sprinkle some additional kosher salt on top.
  • Repeat cutting and salting and squishing steps with all remaining lemons. As you go, you can tamp the lemons in with the bottom of a spatula. The goal is to encourage the lemons to produce juice.
  • When done with lemons, place the pickling weight on top and squish some more. Wait an hour or so for more lemon juice to develop from salting.
  • IMPORTANT: After waiting an hour, if the lemon juice does not fully cover the lemons and the weight, take the lemons you set aside at the beginning and juice them. If you run out of lemon juice to cover the lemons, you can use a 5% salt brine. It is very important that the juice/brine covers the lemons and weight entirely! Everything else is flexible!
  • Loosely cover with a cheese cloth and check every day or so to make sure the juice still covers the lemons. The first few days, if it doesn’t cover completely, you can squish the weight down some more with your hands until the juice covers the weight. If it doesn’t stay there, add more juice/brine to cover.
  • Preserved lemons are ready in 2-6 weeks, depending on the ambient temperature. You know they’re ready if the color has deepened and the liquid has become slightly viscous to the touch (similar to sugar syrup in texture). When they’re ready, you can remove the pickling weight and store for 2+ years in the fridge.