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preserved lemons with jar behind and piece on plate
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5 from 1 vote

Preserved lemons

Preserved lemons are easy to make and add a wonderful depth of flavor to many dishes. Especially popular in Moroccan cooking.
Prep Time10 mins
rest time (min)21 d
Total Time10 mins
Course: Condiment
Cuisine: Moroccan
Servings: 7 (approx)
Calories: 16kcal
Author: Caroline's Cooking


  • 3 ½ lemons small or Meyer lemons, ideally organic unwaxed
  • 2 ½ tbsp salt non-iodized


  • Wash the lemons well, scrubbing any wax off if you were unable to get unwaxed. Trim the stem end off the three whole lemons.
  • Add around ½ tbsp salt to the bottom of a sterile mason jar or medium jam jar.
  • Sit a lemon with the trimmed end down on a cutting board and cut down to leave just a little still joined at the bottom (around ⅓in/1cm from bottom). Cut again at right angles to make a cross shape.
  • Slightly open up the lemon and sprinkle 1/t tbsp salt inside the cuts.
  • Place the lemon in the jar then repeat with 2 more lemons.
  • Press the lemons down in the jar well to release some of the lemon juice. Take another half lemon and squeeze more juice into the jar, then split this lemon half in two and add to the jar, pushing half down each side. Sprinkle the remaining salt over the top and put the lid on the jar.
  • Leave the jar overnight in a cool, dark place then the next day push down the lemons again to release more juice. If needed, add more lemon juice to ensure the lemons are just covered.
  • Cover with lid again then leave the jar at least 3 weeks to mature, in either a cool place or fridge. The lemons are good to use when the skin has softened and white pith is slightly opaque. Rinse off the piece you plan to use before using.


The amount of time they take to mature can vary depending on the lemons used. As noted above, they are ready when the white pith becomes relatively translucent, as in the piece on the plate in the photo above. Once mature, you can keep the lemons in the jar around 6 months in the fridge. You can add additional lemons to the jar as well, just try to use the older ones first.
Since the amount you use can vary hugely, a 'serving' has been estimated as half a lemon but can often be much less. The amount of salt absorbed is also impossible to guage so nutritional info is likely higher is sodium than in reality.


Calories: 16kcal | Carbohydrates: 5g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 2493mg | Potassium: 75mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 12IU | Vitamin C: 29mg | Calcium: 16mg | Iron: 1mg