Middle Eastern Preserved Lemons Recipe

Yep, I’m still working my way through the supply of free citrus fruits.

Each year I make two different batches of preserved or pickled lemons.  There are many preserved lemons recipes but I’ve whittled it down to two Casa Dirty Boots favorites!

This one is pretty traditional and great for using in tagines or other Middle Eastern dishes.  Preserved lemons with chicken or lamb is always a firm favorite here.

If you find yourself with a surplus this is very quick recipe to preserve lemons:

Middle Eastern Preserved Lemons Recipe

  • Wash the lemons (this should really be made with unwaxed fruit).
  • Cut each lemon into eight wedges (or six if they are very small).
  • Rub a generous amount of salt into the cut sides of each wedge.
  • Pack the wedges into glass jars.
  • Add a tablespoon of salt to each 500ml jar.
  • Pour on two tablespoons of lemon juice to each 500ml jar.
  • Top up with boiling water and seal.
  • Leave for one month before using.

Of course you can use any size jar just alter the amount of additional salt and lemon juice accordingly.  Large wide jars are the best as these are easiest to pack tightly.  But use whatever you have to hand (just make sure they’ve been sterilised and are still warm when you start filling them).

preserving-lemonsBefore using we tend to discard the lemon flesh as it is very salty.  The peel is sliced into salads, or added to stews, tagines and rice dishes whole or sliced as you like.  Middle Eastern Preserved Lemons are great for adding some zing to bland pulses and grains such as cous cous, bulgar wheat and lentils as well.  The salty, lemony water from the jars is useful to add to salad dressings too.

preserved-lemonsI was about to discard the lemons used for juicing, into the compost bucket when my new ‘reduce food waste’ sense kicked in.  So in the interests of reducing food waste I didn’t compost the lemons I used for juicing.  I have packed all the peel left from them into a jar topped up with about 5 tablespoons of salt, 2 tablespoons of juice and boiling water.  I’m guessing these will take a little longer to soften.  But I can see no reason why they shouldn’t be fine for adding to tagines too!  I will update this post when I find out if this test batch has worked.

Fingers crossed…

If you have never tried preserved lemons I would highly recommend this recipe as it is so simple.  The end product lasts a year and gives a great citrus tang to cooked dishes.  And, the lemon preserve you create will be much more economical than the store-bought version.  In fact if you’re new to home canning this is a great place to start.

For a more self sufficient future

5 Responses to “Middle Eastern Preserved Lemons Recipe”

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  1. Mitchell Webster says:

    Good Morning,

    Did you also realize that Lemons as well as limes and most all citrus fruits can just be rolled into the deep freeze whole, and frozen until ready to use.

    There are several pluses to doing this, after being froze, this breaks down the pulp (we call pummies) and you get a lot more juice, either defrost on the counter or for a few seconds in the microwave and juice.

    The other plus is that you can take the frozen hard lemon/lime or other citrus out, if a recipe calls for graded rind, it is so easy to grate off just the color part of frozen citrus and leave the white behind, we like the fine rasp grater the best, it shaves the rind right off nicely. Then return the lemon to the freezer.

    We have done this for at least 20 years now.


  2. Cindy says:

    What kind of lemons should I use for the middle eastern preserved lemons?