OYO Design Blog

How to Preserve Lemons

Preserving and canning usually reserved for summer bounty, but if you grow your own lemons, did you know there is a way to enjoy their lemony goodness year round?

Fermenting versus Canning

Long a staple of Moroccan and Mediterranean cuisine, preserving lemons is one of the easiest DIY garden-to-kitchen projects. All you need are lemons, salt and a jar. Unlike canning, which requires multiple steps, hot water baths, etc., this method relies on fermentation. Fermentation requires creating an anaerobic environment, so as long as you are careful to ensure the lemons are completely submerged in their own juice, this process is super-easy. From a flavor and nutrition standpoint, fermenting fruits and vegetables intensifies their flavor and not only preserves peak nutrition, but also enhances it. Ferments like kombucha and (unpasteurized) sauerkraut have exploded in popularity due in part to their high probiotic content, known to support a healthy gut. Although generally eaten in smaller quantities, preserved lemons offer similar benefits and as an enthusiastic home fermenter, I can attest that lemons are probably the easiest project to tackle if you are a fermenter newbie.

How To

To preserve lemons, simply cut each lemon into quarters, almost but not quite all the way through, so that the fruit opens like a flower. Sprinkle about a teaspoon of salt onto the fleshy insides, and firmly press cut-side down into a quart-sized jar. Press the lemon cut-side down into a quart-sized canning jar and sprinkle about a teaspoon of salt onto the rind. Repeat this process with additional lemons until there is an inch or two of space in the jar. If the amount of juice that is released by pressing down on the lemons is not enough to submerge them completely, add additional lemon juice to the jar, and weigh down with a weight or sauerstone if lemons won’t stay submerged. Seal tightly, and leave on the counter for two to four weeks—the rind should begin to become translucent. Stored in the refrigerator, the lemons should last for six months to a year. You can find a more detailed tutorial including photos here.


Preserved lemons are terrific in soups, stews and entrees. Great recipes are easy to find online, but one of the best known dishes is Chicken Tagine. Alana Chernila, author of Eating From the Ground Up, shares some wonderful recipes on her blog here. Preserved lemon martini, anyone?


P.S. Preserved lemons make a terrific hostess gift!


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