Preserved Meyer Lemons, Moroccan Style ~ The Garden of Eating - a sinfully good blog about food

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Preserved Meyer Lemons, Moroccan Style

We spent last week visiting family and friends back in sunny (well, it was sunny last week, at least) Berkeley. Thanks to the generosity of our former neighbor, Peter, who was out of town, we were able to stay upstairs in our old house.

What a treat to be back in the middle of our beloved Gourmet Ghetto in close proximity to our favorite neighbors and all our old haunts like The Cheeseboard, Moneterey Market, Imperial Tea Court, Saul's, and Guerilla Cafe.

Although our son did not remember Berkeley--not surprising, since he'd only just turned one when we left--he did reconnect with the Meyer lemon tree in our yard in a major way (see here for a brief history of their love affair). Every time we went outside, he insisted on picking at least one lemon from the tree.

There was no way I was going to let these fine fruits go to waste so I packed them very carefully in multiple layers of ziploc bags (they're pretty juicy as lemons go...) in the middle of a suitcase, hoping against hope that all our dirty laundry would provide some protection from the bumps and jostles of baggage handling.

One extremely long day of travel later (we missed the check in window for our flight back by one minute, literally :(), ten Meyer lemons were sitting on our counter back in NY in remarkably good shape!

Meyer lemons from Josephine Street by Eve Fox, Garden of Eating blog, copyright 2011

I've been meaning to try making preserved lemons for about five years now, ever since my culinarily gifted friend and food blogger, Kirsten introduced me to them at a lavish Moroccan feast she whipped up.And since Meyer lemons are a particularly good choice for preserving and I had a bunch of 'em, it seemed that the time had finally come. The process is quite simple though it does take roughly three weeks for them to be ready to use.

Making preserved lemons by Eve Fox, Garden of Eating blog, copyright 2011

Since I have not yet made anything with them, I've included some suggestions from other blogs and sites for recipes that call for preserved lemon. The basic rule of thumb is that preserved lemons are good with anything lemons are good with/in -- lamb, fish, beef, chicken, stews, and most Moroccan food.

Preserved Lemons, Moroccan Style
Makes one quart jar


* 6-8 organic meyer lemons, washed and dried
* Salt (use either kosher salt or a coarse sea salt, do NOT use table salt)
* Sterilized quart jar with lid


1. Remove any stems and slice a deep X into each end of the lemon - you're basically cutting each lemon nearly into quarters but not going all the way through.

Making preserved lemons by Eve Fox, Garden of Eating blog, copyright 2011

2. Working over a large bowl, pour as much salt into both ends of the semi-open lemon as you can.

Making preserved lemons by Eve Fox, Garden of Eating blog, copyright 2011

3. Pour a layer of salt into the bottom of the quart jar and then press the salt-filled lemon into the bottom of jar and repeat with the remaining lemons.

Making preserved lemons by Eve Fox, Garden of Eating blog, copyright 2011

4. Press the lemons down to release their juice - the liquid should cover them or nearly cover them if you're working with less juicy lemons. You can fill the jar right up to the top since the lemons will reduce as they pickle. Top with a couple tablespoons of salt.

Making preserved lemons by Eve Fox, Garden of Eating blog, copyright 2011

You can also add spices if you like - some of the more common options are bay leaf, cinnamon stick, peppercorns and whole cloves.

5. Seal the jar well and leave out for 2-3 days, pressing the lemons down once a day to make sure they're sitting below the lemon juice to ensure preservation.

Preserved lemons by Eve Fox, Garden of Eating blog, copyright 2011

6. Move the lemons to the fridge and wait three weeks before using to allow the rinds to pickle fully. To use, rinse the lemons, scrape off the pulp, discard any seeds and chop or mince the rind. They'll keep in the fridge for up to 6 months.

Preserved Lemon Recipe Inspiration:
You might also like these Meyer Lemon recipes:


rosaria said...


airn323 said...

I too have been meaning to make preserved lemons for a long time. Thanks for sharing! Hopefully I'll get around to making some of my own with a little help from your post.

Carl said...

Yay! Another preserving tips.

withinseason said...

Out of curiosity, why not table salt? what would happen?

Eve Fox said...

Hi WithinSeason, table salt has a bunch of additives which could affect the flavor - besides iodine it has chemicals added to make it easy to pour/keep it from clumping. So it's better to stick to straight up salt.

Lani said...

yum i made these lemons last year and used them for so many variety of recipes.....

Eve Fox said...

Lani, feel free to share links if you have good recipes that use preserved lemons!

Heidi and Russ said...

Really enjoyed this - you did a great job! Hope to use this some day!

Heidi and Russ said...

Thanks for this great concept - and well done! Very enjoyable! I hope to have an opportunity to use this someday!