Preserved Lemons

Preserved lemons

Preserved lemons are traditionally used in Middle Eastern cuisine, and can also be a tasty addition to fish and pastas. This recipe is a favourite of one of the Tui team members, and is a great way to make the most of the abundance of lemons in your (or your neighbours!) backyard.


  • 8 medium sized unwaxed lemons- washed
  • Approx ½ a cup of seasalt
  • ¼ tsp pickling spices
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 sterilised preserving jar
  1. Working over a bowl, so you catch any juices, cut 5 of the lemons almost into quarters- leaving the top and the botton of the lemon intact rather than slicing the whole way through.
  2. Squeeze each end of the lemon so the cuts are forced open.
  3. Push 1 tsp of sea salt into each cut. Repeat for all 5 lemons.
  4. Add a layer of salt (approx 4 tsp) over the bottom of the jar.
  5. Pack lemons in tightly, adding two of teaspoons of salt in between each lemon.
  6. Add the pickling spice and bay leaf.
  7. Squeeze the juice from the remaining 3 lemons, and pour in to the jar, so it is full. If you don't have enough lemon juice, top up with water.
  8. Seal the jar and store in a cool, dark area for 3- 4 weeks, before opening.
  9. Once opened, store in the fridge.


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Preserved Lemons Comments

  • I have been wanting a nice easy recipe for Preserved Lemons. Now I have one. Thanks so much. I am sure they will be superb.


  • Hi Mona, you're welcome! Let us know how you get on with them. Thanks Gemma (Tui Team)


  • I am unable to have lemon juice but can have zest. Is it possible to preserve lemon skins only?


  • I have a recipe requiring preserved lemons, this is the reliable recipe I have been waiting for, thanks so much.


  • Hi Yvonne, we have not seen any recipes that don't use lemon juice in them sorry! We will ask some of our cooking friends and see if they have any suggestions. Thanks Gemma (Tui Team)


  • What sort of spices would you use?


  • Hi Barbara, you can buy packs of pickling spice in the spice section of your supermarket. Other recipes put in 5-8 black peppercorns and a chilli instead, so you could try that as an alternative? Thanks! Gemma (Tui Team)


  • I learned to freeze the raw lemons (either cut or not) for a day or two before using the salt and filling my jars and found that the recipe was ready to use much quicker. I think the freezing helps break down the cells in the lemon skin. Try sliced finely in a salads.

    Wendy Pearce

  • Great tip, thanks for sharing Wendy. - Tui Team


  • Hi can freeze grated lemon (or orange) rind / zest. Put in an airtight plastic container and keep in freezer to use as you need.

    Jennie Leary

  • I have never bothered with all that lol - I just pop them in the freezer as soon as picked and they're perfect! And yes, lemon rind same thing, I just seal in small plastic freezer bags (or small jars). Easy-peasy! And ditto limes

    Lynda Skinner

  • Hello I have always done my lemons with no juice at all. I cut them in 4to almost the end, and fill them with salt. I fill my jar that way, pressing the lemons as I add an other one. It needs to be filled to the top then close with the lid. During 2 or 3 weeks I keep on turning the jar upside down. After that time they should be almost covered with their own juice. They keep for ever en once open.Îuse then in salads, to stufff chicken etc...they do go brown with time but are still perfectly alright.


    • Hi Dom, Do mine that same way as you describe but I add 2-3 bay leaves and a stick of cinnamon and a few back peppercorns too, just adds a little extra flavour


  • Thanks for sharing Dominique! - Tui Team


  • I have a huge crop lines and would really like a recipe for lime marmalade with the fruit in thin slices.

    Jacky P-Kane

  • Over the years I have prepared preserved lemons quite a few times. They are easy to prepare, look great in the jar and can be a bright display in a shady space in the kitchen. They are great to use mostly in meat dishes.

    Doug Lambert

  • I don't preserve lemons. I squeeze the juice out of them, pour that into ice-cube trays and freeze them. I then store them in the freezer in ice cream containers. When someone has a cold it is easy to dilute the blocks in boiling water with honey and perhaps a little sugar.

    Beryl Palmer

  • Hi Jacky, great to hear you have a large crop! We don't have a lime marmalade recipe, but will keep an eye out for one. Enjoy, Tui Team


  • We agree Doug. Preserved lemons are very handy and look great in the jar! Enjoy, Tui Team


  • Great tip Beryl, thanks for sharing. - Tui Team


  • What do you use them for when they are pickled??


  • Hi there, preserved lemons are traditionally used in Middle Eastern cuisine, and can also be a tasty addition to a range of meat, fish and pasta dishes. - Tui Team