Moroccan Preserved Lemons

Earlier in March, one of the Significant Interest Group (SIG) for herbs that I am involved in as part of the San Antonio Herb Society got together to make Moroccan Preserved Lemons. One of the ladies gathered and presented the information and then we all dove right in.

Moroccan Preserved Lemons

At the end of all the cutting and squeezing I went home with two quart jars of preserved lemons. I have set the jars on our counter where I can see them everyday (so I won’t forget about them). Every few days I turn them over a few times to mix things up. Then set them down to do their magic.

This is the recipe we followed. I am not sure where it originated from.

Moroccan Preserved Lemons

  • 20 lemons (approximately)
  • 1 cup salt
  • 8 cinnamon Sticks
  • 12 Star Anise (you can use whole cloves if you want)
  • 1/4 cup whole coriander seeds
  • 1/4 cup cardamon pods
  • 8 bay leaves
  • 2 Tbs black pepper corns
  • Optional: Olive Oil
  • 4 1-quart glass jars with lids

Variations: you can use some of the spices or none of the spices, it is up to you.

Wash and sterilize the jars you are using.

Wash the lemons well to remove any residue and dirt on them. Cut the lemons in quarters. Cut the pith off each quarter and remove as many of the seed as you can.  Removing that pith will make it easier to remove the seeds. Reserve about 8 lemons for juicing later (this will vary depending on the size of your lemons).

It is time to fill the jars with lemons and spices and salt. We layered ours, starting with lemons and adding a little of each spice and salt along the way, squishing the lemons in as we added them to pack them in tightly. According to the recipe we were following, if you are using 4 jars, each jar will hold:

  • 12 lemon quarters (ours took more than that)
  • 1/4 cup salt
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 3 star anise
  • 1 T coriander seeds
  • 1 T cardamom pods
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 T black pepper corns

Once you have all your lemons, spices and salt in the jars, fill each jar with lemon juice, leaving a small air space at the top. You want the lemons to be completely covered with juice. Put the lid on and seal tightly. Shake you jars to help distribute and start dissolving the salt. **Using store bought juice or frozen juice is not recommended at all, the acidity is to low and it will alter the taste.**

Turn the jars upside down every few days to ensure the lemons are coated with the salt and juice mixture.  Keep jars in a slightly cool place. The ideal temperature is around 65-70F. Continue this process for six weeks.  Lemons are preserved when the rind becomes more translucent, very soft and pliable. Once preserved you can store the lemons in the refrigerator or in a cool dark place for up to a year.

Here is a link to another recipe for Preserved Lemons. This recipe says they are ready to use in 30-days and will keep up to a year. They also mention you can use the “pickling” juice over in the course of a year to preserve more lemons. You can also use the juice when making Bloody Mary’s or salad dressings.

I am anxious to use see how they do. I have to wait until mid-April before they are ready.

A few notes: We ran out of lemons. I know it will depend on the size of the lemons you are using, keep in mind you need enough juice at the end to ensure everything is covered. In the end, we all needed to go to the store to buy more lemons to fill our jars with lemons and  juice too.

I am slowly looking at some recipes to use once my preserved lemons are ready. I sure wish I would have known about this when we lived in Palm Springs and we were surrounded by lemons. Oh well.

Sincerely, Emily

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15 Responses to Moroccan Preserved Lemons

  1. Jane says:

    I will be interested in what you do with them. I have never heard of them. Do share what they taste like.

  2. I made preserved lemons last year (about a year ago), they are so beautiful in the jar and there are a few Moroccan recipes they work well with. I was thinking of dehydrating some lemons this year (after I noticed the post over at Food In Jars), this way I will have just the lemon flavor to work with, without the spices.


    • I will go check out the post on the lemons you did. I know you can do them leaving out the spices too. I will have to check out the post over at Food in Jars too. Thanks!

  3. Joni Jones says:

    Leslie is always getting lemons, she may be interested in this. We also have a lemon tree that this year bore a lot of fruit Need to know how to use them after this process, however, before trying this method.

  4. annie says:

    Those look great! Preserved lemons have been on my list of things to try for a while but they haven’t made it to the top. Can’t wait to hear how they taste.

  5. eva626 says:

    thats so cool…my family buys lemons in bulk..and i hate how they go to waste…this such a great way to make use of them! great post

  6. Zonnah says:

    Ok, you will have to share what you use them in and how they turn out. I am really curious now 🙂

  7. Pingback: Moroccan Carrot salad w/parsley and roasted lemon | Sincerely, Emily

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