How to Make Preserved Lemons

Whether you are sun drying tomatoes, pickling cucumbers or freezing fresh herbs, there are plenty ways to preserve the summer harvest this season. How about preserved lemons? Preserved lemons are a staple in Indian and North African cuisine. They are simple to make and can add zesty flavor to just about any dish!

The goal of preserving lemons is to be able to use the rind to add extra lemon flair to a recipe. How? Here are a few ideas!

Stews and tagines: Preserved lemons are commonly used in Moroccan-inspired tagines. Simply chop them up and throw them in! The flavor of preserved lemons works with any lamb, chicken or chickpea-based stew.

Dressings and sauces: Substitute preserved lemon in any dressing recipe that calls for lemon zest or a squeeze of lemon juice. Blend the preserved lemon right in to your next vinaigrette or add them to a lemon-basil pesto or parsley-based chimichurri to top off a grilled piece of chicken or fish!

Grains: Jazz up your summer pilaf by chopping up small pieces of preserved lemon and adding them directly to your favorite farro, barley or pasta salad!

How do you make preserved lemons? Use the simple recipe below to get started!


Preserved Lemons

Recipe developed by Amari Thomsen MS, RD, LDN

Ingredients
2 Meyer lemons
2 tsp sea salt

Directions

  1. Wash each lemon thoroughly under running water.
  2. Cut off the stem end and the tip of each lemon. Cut the lemons in half lengthwise, stopping 1/2 an inch before you reach the bottom. Repeat the cut perpendicular so you have cut each lemon lengthwise in the "X" formation, but not all the way through (lemon should still be attached at the bottom).
  3. Generously salt the lemons making sure the salt reaches all inside surfaces.
  4. Place each lemon in the jar, pushing down on them with a wooden spoon to squeeze all the juice out. The lemons should be completely submerged in their own juice. Add more lemon juice to fill the jar if needed.
  5. For additional flavor, add a cinnamon stick and whole cloves if desired.
  6. Seal the jar and let it sit at room temperature for 3-4 weeks.
  7. When ready to use, rinse lemons in water to remove excess salt and discard seeds.
  8. Lemons will last for 6 months in the refrigerator.

The opportunities for using preserved lemons this summer season are endless! How do you use preserved lemons in your cooking?

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Amari Thomsen
Amari Thomsen, MS, RD, LDN, is a freelance food and nutrition writer, recipe developer and author of "Idiot’s Guides: Autoimmune Cookbook." She is a recognized nutrition communications expert with FoodMinds and a health influencer herself as owner of a Chicago-based private practice, Eat Chic Chicago.