Preserved Lemons Recipe (aka What to do With All Those Lemons!)

17 September 2014

In New Zealand everyone has a lemon tree in their backyard - or so they say.  

Citrus trees are fairly low maintenance, often taking care of themselves and growing away quite happily.  So what do you do when they fruit and you have more lemons than you can shake a stick at? (or juice, squeeze over salads, bake into cakes, give to neighbours, friends, colleagues or enemies??)

Make preserved lemons.

What to do with Preserved Lemons

Preserved lemons have been being made for centuries and are a common and widely utilised food in India and North Africa (especially famous in Moroccan cuisine).

Preserving lemons saves fruit for future use, changes the lemon's flavour to a more savoury tone to offer a different taste experience, and adds an instant, amazing pop to a range of dishes.  Try them added to salads, quiches, hummus, fish dishes, and sauces.

These two tips will make them a tastier treat:

  • Rinse before use to remove excess salt
  • Scrape out the inner pulp including the pith.  Slice the remaining lemon peels into thin strips or cut into small dices.  Before disposing of the inner pulp you may wish to press it through a sieve to obtain the flavourful juice, which can be used for flavouring/sauce making.

Here are 12 ideas for using them.


How to Make Preserved Lemons

Some preserving methods take all day, but you can whip up a jar of these in just minutes!

This recipe comes from our founder, Marion, and is adapted from Julie Le Clerc's "Made in Morocco".

Ingredients and equipment

  • 6 medium sized lemons, rinsed (if you're buying rather than home harvesting make sure they're organic - you don't want to store a jar of pesticides!)
  • 4 tablespoons of salt
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon peppercorns
  • 1 cinnamon quill
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Sterile 1 litre jar


  • In a bowl mix the spices into the salt
  • Cut a cross into the lemons – almost to the base, but so that the quarters stay together.
  • Push the seasoned salt into the lemon segments
  • Pack the lemons as tightly as possible into the jar, putting the bay leaf in half way. Close and let stand overnight.
  • The next day press the lemons down again, encouraging them to release more juice as they start to soften.
  • Repeat for a 2-3 days until the lemons are completely covered with liquid.
  • If after 2-3 days your lemons aren’t too juicy, add more freshly-squeezed lemon juice until they are submerged.
  • After one month, when the preserved lemons are soft, they’re ready to use.
  • Store the lemons in the refrigerator, where they’ll keep for at least 6 months. 

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