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Preserved lemons

Preserved lemons

Preserved lemons are used quite a lot in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cookery. This is a great way to keep lemons if you have a large supply.


  • 12 lemons (not Meyer)
  • about ½ cup coarse salt, like rock or flaky sea salt
  • 12 bay leaves
  • 12 whole cloves
  • 12 whole cardamoms, crushed
  • ½ cup strained lemon juice


  1. Soak the lemons in cold water for 2 days changing the water after day 1. Drain well.
  2. Take sharp knife and cut the lemons in quarters but leave 1cm at the core end so that the lemon remains intact. Place ¼ tsp salt into the centre of each lemon. Wedge a bayleaf between two of the quarters and pierce each lemon with a whole clove.
  3. Pack the lemons into 2 x 1.5 litre sterilised, warm jars. Sprinkle over the cardamoms and a further 1½ tablespoons salt into each jar.
  4. Fill each jar with ¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice and top with boiling hot water from a kettle and seal immediately. Stand for 3 weeks in a cool dark place before using.
  5. To use: The lemon skin is used, not the pulp. Rinse the lemons well before using, discard the pulp and slice the rind very finely.

Cooks Tips

- I have seen all varieties of salt used for preserved lemons, from rock to sea salt to kosher salt. I have used both rock and sea salt to make these lemons, though I do tend to give the rock salt a quick grind in the blender to make it slightly finer. As the salt is a preserving agent in this case, any type will do. However, with iodised or table salt, use about a tablespoon less per half cup, as it is so finely ground, and permeates more.

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