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Making Preserved Lemons

November 18th, 2009

I’m a huge fan of all things lemon. If I have a choice I’ll take lemon anything: cookies, cakes, scones, etc. Sadly lemons don’t grow in NE Ohio (unless you can manage an indoor tree) so finding a local source is not going to happen. The next best thing to local, is finding a small orchard to buy them from. I searched on-line and found a small orchard in California called Lemon Ladies Orchard. I ordered a 10-lb box of Meyer lemons and they arrived several days later.
I have so many recipes for these lemons I probably will run out of lemons long before I complete them all. First on my list was making a batch of preserved lemons for the pantry.
I picked out 15 nice lemons, coarse sea salt and grabbed a nice sized jar from the pantry. While I sterilized the jar, I washed and quartered 10 of the lemons (cut the stem end off and quarter lemons lengthwise). Next I added the lemon quarters to my jar adding a scant tablespoon of salt after each row. Pack the lemons tightly but don’t crush them. You can also add spices if you’d like, cinnamon, cloves, etc.
Keep adding lemons and salt until you’re up to the top of the jar (I used a quart jar, you can use 2 pints if you’d like).
When you reach the top, take the remaining 5 lemons and roll on the counter to soften (makes them juice better). Juice the lemons into the jar, add enough juice to cover the lemons, use more lemons if needed. Remove any air bubbles and top off with the remaining salt (you want to use about a half cup total for this recipe).
Allow lemons to ferment on the counter for 2 weeks (3-4 weeks if you used regular lemons and not Meyer). Shake the jar occasionally (every couple days) to redistribute salt. Store in the fridge and enjoy in recipes, they’ll keep for about 6 months. When you want to use them you can rinse the lemons if you don’t want to add so much salt to your recipe or you can leave them salty. They may acquire some white crystals, this is OK. Here’s a recipe for Israeli Couscous with Butternut Squash & Preserved Lemons.
Not wanting to waste any part of these lovely lemons, I decided to candy the rinds of the lemons I used for juice.
These little jewels are so tasty! I also used the syrup left from the candied lemons and made some lemon ginger hard candy. *recipe for candied lemon peel

What’s your favorite flavor?

33 Comments to “Making Preserved Lemons”
  1. Mangochild on November 17, 2009 at 8:25 am

    The color on those lemons is delightful. I had no idea that one could eat the rinds as candy! Though since they are used as zest, why not? I am clearly somewhat slow on the uptake here :-) Do they get hard, or are they more chewy?
    .-= Mangochild´s last blog ..CSA share report: November 14, 2009 =-.

    Reply to Mangochild's comment

  2. Isabel@FennelandFern on November 17, 2009 at 9:13 am

    These photos are so lovely! Love this blog.

    Reply to Isabel@FennelandFern's comment

  3. vrtlaricaana on November 18, 2009 at 6:20 am

    My mouth is watering…
    .-= vrtlaricaana´s last blog ..Preparing strawberry bed for winter =-.

    Reply to vrtlaricaana's comment

  4. Tree on November 18, 2009 at 10:07 am

    Can you tell us how you candied the lemons, and then made candy. I also love all things lemon and while I am thinking about getting a tree or three ;) I won’t have local lemons for over a year.
    .-= Tree´s last blog ..Today’s Ten Things =-.

    Reply to Tree's comment

  5. Louise on November 18, 2009 at 10:27 am

    After you allow the lemons to ferment on the counter for 2 weeks do you wash off the salt, or do you rinse them prior to using? If not, do the lemons taste salty when you use them? As always your photos and process are wonderful.

    Reply to Louise's comment

  6. Rhonda on November 18, 2009 at 10:31 am

    I have the same question as Louise.

    Also … just wanted to say that my Grandma used to make lemon peel candy as well as grapefruit and orange. Lemon is yummy but grapefruit is my favorite. My Grandma’s candy is one of my favorite Christmas memories. She passed about 10 years ago and I miss her so… Maybe I’ll have to take up her tradition of making the candied peels. :-)

    Reply to Rhonda's comment

    • Susy on November 18, 2009 at 10:49 am

      I think I would love love love grapefruit as well. I’m planning on buying some organic grapefruit this winter when they’re in season to make some candied peels.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  7. Christine on November 18, 2009 at 12:29 pm

    Living in Florida is great in this aspect. We’ve got a handful of citrus trees out front, and we’re already starting to get some ripe tangerines!
    .-= Christine´s last blog ..Second Nature: A Gardener’s Education =-.

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  8. lee on November 18, 2009 at 12:55 pm

    Have you considered growing a dwarf lemon in a pot? 18 inch pot is big enough for it as long as you prune it a bit every year. The ripe lemons stay on the tree forever until you pick them. When it gets cold just bring it in and leave it by a sunny window.

    Reply to lee's comment

    • Susy on November 18, 2009 at 2:09 pm

      I do have a small citrus in a pot, but it never flowered. Probably since I started it from a seed. I’m hoping to get a few dwarf citrus for Christmas, then perhaps I’ll be able to grow a few of my own lemons/limes.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  9. ChicagoMike on November 18, 2009 at 1:18 pm

    .-= ChicagoMike´s last blog ..FarmVille =-.

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  10. Jackie on November 18, 2009 at 1:43 pm

    Thanks for giving us these recipes! I have a lemon tree that I plants 1.5 years ago and I just picked it’s first lemon. It’s great how you didn’t want to waste any part of the lemon. Very excited about the lemon peel candy!
    .-= Jackie´s last blog ..BPA is in our canning lids – very sad =-.

    Reply to Jackie's comment

  11. Jaspenelle on November 18, 2009 at 1:47 pm

    Your produce photos never fail to make me drool. Since I was raised in Europe (and for part of that time in Spain) I have a deep love for Moroccan food which heavily uses preserved lemons so I drool even more so with this entry! My mother made a really wonderful lamb tagine that had preserved lemons, which I am now craving in fact.

    My favorite flavor? I love citrus, lemon, grapefruit, lime and especially blood orange. However I have yet to see a decent blood orange since moving to the USA, especially since I live in a zone 5.

    I also adore chocolate of course, a local candy store makes a lemon filled dark chocolate truffle, the best of both worlds in my book!
    .-= Jaspenelle´s last blog ..Preparing =-.

    Reply to Jaspenelle's comment

    • Susy on November 18, 2009 at 2:04 pm

      I was thinking about dipping the candied lemon peel in some dark chocolate, I think that would be delicious!

      I love grapefruit as well, I’m hoping to order a nice box later this winter.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  12. Karen Morss on November 18, 2009 at 2:06 pm

    Suzy, The only thing that gives me more pleasure than growing these lemons is seeing what my wonderful customers do with them once they arrive. Thanks so much for mentioning Lemon Ladies Orchard!

    Reply to Karen Morss's comment

  13. warren on November 18, 2009 at 4:13 pm

    Susy! That is such an awesome idea! I am so gonna make some of them! I am trying to grow a Meyer lemon tree in my office at work and it has a great lemon on it…but it hasn’t yellowed yet. Anyhow, I love lemons as well. I also like vanilla a lot and raspberry!
    .-= warren´s last blog ..I got the fever =-.

    Reply to warren's comment

  14. Thomas on November 18, 2009 at 4:26 pm

    Susy – nicely done! I harvested 3 Meyer lemons from my potted tree this past weekend and made marmalade. I was planning on saving a couple from my remaining 6 to make preserved lemons (using juice from ordinary lemons). Not bad for a little tree raised in Northern Massachusetts.

    I LOVE the complex flavor of these lemons. Hopefully you will get that dwarf citrus tree from Mr. Chiot’s this year.
    .-= Thomas´s last blog ..Making Meyer Lemon Marmalade =-.

    Reply to Thomas's comment

  15. elena on November 18, 2009 at 6:43 pm

    dude that lemon peel sounds awesome!

    Reply to elena's comment

  16. Bruce F on November 20, 2009 at 5:16 pm

    I think the word I’m looking for is serendipity.

    Your blog came up in my Google Reader under “Recommendations”, so I stopped by.

    When I found your piece on Preserved Lemons, I had a shock of recognition. In a happy coincidence, I did a post on the same subject, including the candied rinds, about a week ago. Great minds and all that……….

    We found that the candied rinds taste great frozen. Try it!
    .-= Bruce F´s last blog ..What Are You Eating? Crustless Zucchini Pie =-.

    Reply to Bruce F's comment

    • Susy on November 20, 2009 at 5:31 pm

      What a coincidence! Great minds do think alike!

      I’ll try freezing some of those rinds, so far we love them with some dark chocolate.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  17. Peggy on November 20, 2009 at 7:03 pm

    Oh my goodness, I just made it over to your blog and love it!! I’ve seen your comments on The Nourishing Gourmet before but never dropped by!

    We were “neighbors” for a time I see! Just over 4 years ago we moved from NE Ohio (just outside Youngstown in Liberty township) to the Interior of Alaska… However we are now on our way back down south. Indiana this time!

    I am so excited about your source for Meyer lemons! I’ll have a kitchen to restock after our move so will definitely keep them in mind.
    Our youngest child loves salty and sour foods so it will be a trial to keep him out of them but I think he will be placated with the extra rinds!! In fact, he doesn’t know it but he is getting a jar of candied organic lemon and orange peel for Christmas. I’ve been working on them when he is at school during the day. We like to steep the lemon peels in just a bit of ginger syrup for a short bit prior to drying for a little added spice.

    Looking forward to perusing your blog a little more indepth!

    Reply to Peggy's comment

  18. Gu and Gi on November 20, 2009 at 7:09 pm

    Pickles made with Citrus fruits are a commonplace in the southern part of India. The fruits are preserved with salt, cayenne pepper and ground mustard with sesame oil to hold everything together. These are spicy and go well with most breads or rice.

    The candied lemons sound nice. I will try to make them sometime soon. I used to love the candied gooseberries my mom made when i was growing up

    Reply to Gu and Gi's comment

  19. viggie on November 28, 2009 at 11:20 pm

    So very cool!
    .-= viggie´s last blog ..New Additions =-.

    Reply to viggie's comment

  20. Food in Jars » Gifts in Jars, Elsewhere on December 3, 2009 at 12:30 am

    […] Preserved Lemons from Chiot’s Run […]

    Reply to Food in Jars » Gifts in Jars, Elsewhere's comment

  21. JodyM on December 10, 2009 at 10:15 am

    I did that couscous recipe last week with some preserved lemons I made in a spice brine, it was really really good. Really. But my husband hates the preserved lemons! He needs his tongue scraped.
    .-= JodyM´s last blog ..Not My Fault Monday =-.

    Reply to JodyM's comment

  22. Celebrating Handmade Holidays | Chiot's Run on December 19, 2009 at 4:47 am

    […] rolls and some sourdough bread being made. I also made some lemon marmalade with some of those Meyer Lemons I have. I’ll be giving some of this away as gifts, of course some will stay here for us to enjoy […]

    Reply to Celebrating Handmade Holidays | Chiot’s Run's comment

  23. […] but recently I’ve read so much about preserved lemons on blogs like Sustainable Eats and Chiot’s Run that I just had to try my hand at making some. My only hurdle was that despite all that citrus I […]

    Reply to Oranges: Whole, Preserved, and Candied « bree's bumbling's comment

  24. […] Make Your Own: Brown Sugar Make Your Own: Baking Powder Make Your Own: Ghee Make Your Own: Butter Make Your Own: Preserved Lemons Make Your Own: Ketchup Make Your Own: Sauerkraut Make Your Own: Canned Tomato SoupMake Your Own: […]

    Reply to A Few Resources for the Real Food Challenge « Not Dabbling In Normal's comment

  25. Homemade Blueberry Muffin Cake | Chiot's Run on March 13, 2010 at 11:41 pm

    […] and wild black raspberries. Yesterday I decided that some blueberries would go perfectly with those lemons I got a while back. I settled on blueberry muffin cake, since it would pair perfectly with our […]

    Reply to Homemade Blueberry Muffin Cake | Chiot’s Run's comment

  26. […] squash ravioli, squash pudding and some Barley with Butternut Squash & Preserved Lemons (remember those preserved lemons I made?). These will all be for the Real Food Challenge over at Not Dabbling, so I’ll be taking photos of […]

    Reply to Anyone who says that sunshine brings happiness, has never danced in the rain.” ~ Author Unknown | Chiot’s Run's comment

  27. DIY holiday gift round-up | krista and jess on December 2, 2011 at 11:03 am

    […] preserved lemons […]

    Reply to DIY holiday gift round-up | krista and jess's comment


This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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