How To Make Preserved Meyer Lemons

by formerchef on January 23, 2012

Post image for How To Make Preserved Meyer Lemons

A gallon of preserved lemons? What was I thinking? The more the merrier? That I wanted to have a big Moroccan themed party and I’d need a lot of preserved lemon? I honestly don’t know. I think it was something along the lines of , “well, if a little is good, then a lot must be great!

I received Paula Wolfert’s gorgeous book, The Food of Morocco as a Christmas gift. The book is not only beautiful, but she takes great pains to explain all about the cuisine and I’m really excited to cook from it.

First things first, I needed to have the basic ingredients and one of the main staples is preserved lemon. They take 30 days to cure so I guess I figured I might as well make enough to share with my mother who herself was given a Moroccan tagine for Christmas.

The recipe calls for 5 lemons. Since I could fit 15 lemons into my gallon jar I just tripled the recipe. All good, right? Not so fast.

I forget to take into account how much extra space there would be in the jar. The original recipe calls for 5 lemons, 1/3  cup salt and 1/2 cup of lemon juice to cover the lemons in what I assume is a quart sized jar which meant I’d need 1.5 cups of juice for my batch. Unfortunately, that amount wasn’t even close. In the end, for my gallon jar, I needed 7 cups of juice to cover the lemons. Good thing I have a tree full of lemons. I also found the lemons kept bobbing up to the top like rubber duckies floating the the bathtub. A few small glass bowls used as weights solved that problem.

Paula Wolfert has this to say about using Meyer lemons. Note, I think she meant “thinner skinned” not “thicker” (edited; in reading again I realize she must mean the Meyer is thicker skinned than the doqq):

The creme de la creme of Moroccan lemons, the thin skinned doqq, is similar in aroma and flavor to our thicker-skinned American hybrid, the Meyer lemon. Meyer lemons turn extremely soft during preserving, and they make excellent flavoring for olives, salads or brined vegetables or garnish for tagines. California Eureka lemons also work quite well.

If you want to try making your own preserved lemons, I recommend sticking with the original recipe ratio. Perhaps I should have titled this post How (Not) To Make Preserved Lemons…

preparing preserved lemons

The lemons are washed, ends trimmed, and quartered down to 1/4 inch at the base. They are then salted inside, put back together, and placed in the jar with the rest of the salt and lemon juice to cover. They sit in the jar for 30 days, and can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 6 months. To use, remove the lemon from the jar, rinse off the salt and use only the peel of the lemon, not the pulp.

Now all I have to do is wait the 30 days until they are ready and then start cooking! Stay tuned…


1 Jenn and Seth (@HomeSkilletCook) January 24, 2012 at 10:40 am

Just found your blog, so many great things!…thanks for posting this, we have been eager to try preserving lemons!

2 Meredith January 31, 2012 at 10:59 am

Why have I never thought of this? I got carried away buying local Meyer lemons the other day. This is great way to them up.

3 Elise Walsh February 13, 2012 at 7:10 pm

Well, thanks for sharing your little issue. I can’t wait to see some recipes with these lemons!

4 Ella McDaniel February 15, 2012 at 11:55 pm

This sounds like a great project for summertime! I’m hoping to get my grandmother to teach me all of her canning secrets, and this would make a great addition for dishes more adventurous than straight applesauce and pickles. How did you seal the jar? It looks in the picture like a plastic lid, so is sealing less of an issue here than with traditional canning?

5 formerchef February 16, 2012 at 6:31 am

It’s actually a metal lid, but the lemons are not traditionally “canned” according to the recipe. In reading the book, preserved lemons are more of an accent ingredient to recipe than say, a condiment like pickles.

6 formerchef February 17, 2012 at 6:23 am

Ella- I contacted Paula Wolfort and she reminded me you don’t want to use metal lids because of the acid and salt corrosion issues. For this, plastic is better, or a glass bale lid jar. Also, please follow her ratio of salt to lemon juice, not mine. 🙂

7 Kim Larsen August 24, 2012 at 4:34 pm

Do you preserve them for 30 days on the countertop or in the refrigerator? After 30 days do you leave them in the brine or rinse and store in the refrigerator? New to your blog and looking forward to making these!

8 formerchef August 24, 2012 at 8:16 pm

Kim- Welcome to the blog! The book says to store them in the brine “in a warm place” for 30 days (I admit I was a little nervous about this), but I’m sure if you refrigerated them it would be fine too (I’ve seen recipes which do it that way as well). They need to be completely covered in the brine at all times so that the lemons are not exposed to air (and thus might mold) and you’ll want to turn the jar over every few days to make sure it’s evenly distributed. After that, they go into the refrigerator, in the brine. They are rinsed off when you use them.

9 Brenda February 2, 2013 at 9:00 am

My question has always been how long do they stay edible? Is it indefinite? Because even a smaller jar of preserved lemons could last a very long time.


10 formerchef February 2, 2013 at 9:19 am

That’s a good question. I’ve read they’ll keep in the refrigerator at least 6 months to a year.

11 DB February 12, 2013 at 1:38 pm

I used my preserved lemon to make compound butter – excellent. I also starting adding it in place of lemon juice which also works well. And of course it works wonders in nearly any fish dish – great stuff that is worth the effort and time.

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