504 Main by Holly Lefevre: How to Preserve Lemons
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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

How to Preserve Lemons

Awhile back a VERY sweet friend gave me a ton of big gorgeous organic Meyer lemons What to do - what to make! These were some of the most gorgeous lemons I had ever seen (for real!). I quickly decided I needed to get cracking...and so I did. I made (Meyer) limoncello, (Meyer) lemon Curd and Preserved (Meyer) Lemons. (no Meyer lemons? ...you can use good ole lemons for this too!)

Salt, lemons, juice and a jar are all you need to make preserved lemons for use in your favorite recipes.

I have a thing for lemons (my entire family does)...we use them on almost all of our veggies, hot lemon water every morning, and or course for lemon treats! Now, I have a new way to use lemons and I learned a new technique...and best yet making preserved lemons are so easy and inexpensive to make!

Now, don't be afraid...I am not a true foodie (oh, I like food, but I don't each odd strange things just because). I tasted the lemon and it was a (very) salty citrus taste. And, before I could post this, I had to use it in a recipe. I made a version of lemon chicken (which was a HIT!)

Preserved lemons ready to use.

I am so excited to start making more with the preserved lemons! Generally, the rind is used and the pulp discarded (I used only the rind in my lemon chicken). I did however see that some chefs choose to puree the entire batch.
  If you do a search for "Preserved Lemons" you will find plenty of recipes. Based on what I have seen with my own experiment, pretty much all of them will work and they all vary just a bit. My version is a compilation of discussions with foodie friends and research.


All you need is...
  • Lemons! I used 7 Meyer but regular lemons work too! (they were BIG lemons)..it really depends on how many you want to make and how big you jars are.
  • 1/2 cup+ lemon juice (from regular lemons)
  • Sea Salt, at least 1 cup (probably a touch more, depending on the size of the jar)
  • Sterilized Jar with lid (I prefer a wide mouth jar...but you may notice that I do not use a wide mouth jar in the tutorial)
Let's get preserving!
  • Wash the lemons well and pat dry. 
  • Quarter the lemons.
Cut the lemon in quarters.
  • In a clean, sterilized jar, place a layer (you do not want to see the bottom of the jar) of salt. 
  • Place a layer of lemon wedges on top of the salt (I fit 4 wedges)...press down.
  • Add another layer of salt (don't be shy!) 
  • And, another layer of lemons...press down.

Pack the lemons and salt in a jar
  • Continue until you get to the top. Again, do not be shy with the salt. Finish the jar off with a layer of salt. Press down.
lemons packed in a mason jar

  • I packed my lemons in the jar so you could see the juices "exploding." In fact push down hard on the lemon to release the juices (this is why a wide mouth jar would be better).
  • Add FRESH lemon juice to the jar to cover the lemons. 
  • Put the lid on and tuck that jar away. I put it in the back floor of my pantry. 
  • I give my jar a shake about once a day to distribute the juices. Within 24 hours I could see the transformation...the lemons were breaking down and there was a ton of juice. (In my case, the Meyer lemons broke down quicker than regular lemons.)

Wait about 3-4 week for use. Store in the refrigerator.

This is a lemon after being preserved.

a preserved lemon

It is really easy to remove the pulp...

Preserved lemon, remve rind

I just love looking at these beauties!
preserved lemons and sliced rinds

Preserved lemons may be best known for their use in Moroccan dishes, especially with chicken and fish. I have yet to experiment as much as I would like but I have started a Pinterest board that includes Vegan, Paleo and Gluten Free recipes as well. I will be adding to it regularly!

Follow Holly Lefevre (504 Main)'s board Lemons on Pinterest.
This post is written and created at 504 Main by Holly Lefevre


  1. Thanks for this tutorial, Holly! I have made orange preserves/marmalade before but never thought about preserving lemons. I don't usually have that many lemons, but they always seem to go moldy before I can use even a bag, especially during the fall and winter. I seem to use them up faster in the spring and summer months. Lemons have become so expensive around here, so I really feel bad when even one goes bad, so I might start doing this in some small(jelly size)jars. I started following you on Pinterest so I can keep up with those recipes and so forth!

  2. Amazing!! I've never learned this before. Thanks for sharing.

  3. you know, there's so much you can do with lemons that they're the one fruit that I will totally use up (even if I have a huge bag) before it goes bad. I like to make lemon water, lemon zest, add it in any cooking, etc. to ensure that it gets used. But this is a GREAT idea, I never even thought of it as an option. thank you!

  4. I will have to sneak over and get some more lemons from my sister's tree and do this. You just have to share the lemon chicken recipe. There might me a new box of lemons in your future if I can swing it!

  5. Just picked a dozen of lemons from my mother in laws garden in portugal and cant wait to preserve them using your pictures!

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