Recipe: Preserved Lemons from Toast & Jam

In Toast & Jam, Sarah Owens offers her readers a "gentle challenge, enabling you to bring better food choices into your life with intention." In the section on "Ferments, Pickles, & Cured Ingredients," she includes this recipe for preserved lemons to boost or brighten your meal.

Winter is high season for Meyer lemons, my favorite citrus to use in a variety of dishes ranging from sweet to savory. Their perfumed thin skins and complex flavor can be enjoyed fresh for only a short time, making them the perfect seasonal candidates for preservation. I prefer to make one neutral jar of preserved lemons without spice and several laced with aromatic flavors that remind me of navigating the exotic souks of the medina quarter of Marrakesh.

The following recipe can be adapted using other citrus as well: try common Eureka lemons, limes, clementines, or mandarins. Just be sure to use organic citrus to avoid the cocktail of sprays that most conventional fruits endure. The thinner the skin, the more likely you will want to quarter the fruit before salting. If using thick-skinned fruits, such as common lemons, limes, or oranges, you may slice them into ½-inch-thick rounds before salting and stacking them into jars slightly larger than the width of the fruit.

Preserved Lemons

Makes one large 1-liter jar or 2 pints

800 g / 8 to 9 small Meyer lemons
240 g / 1 cup coarse sea salt
75 to 110 g / ⅓ to ½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, as needed

Optional spices:
3 whole cloves
1½ tablespoons candied ginger, coarsely chopped
1 cinnamon stick
1 star anise pod


3 whole bay leaves
1 teaspoon whole coriander seeds

Sprinkle about ¼ inch of salt in the bottom of the jar. Set aside.

Quarter the lemons three-fourths of the way down, leaving one end intact, or slice the lemons into rounds. Remove any seeds and place the fruit pieces in a large bowl. Stuff the quartered lemons with a few pinches of salt. Toss the citrus with the remaining salt and allow them to sit at room temperature for about 10 minutes.

Lightly press down on the fruit to extract the juice, then pack it into the jar, alternating layers with the spices (if using). Pour in the remaining juice from the bowl. Add enough squeezed lemon juice to completely cover the salted lemons. Position the lid to seal and place the jar in a cool, dry location, tamping it lightly to eliminate any trapped air. Leave the jar for at least 1 month to cure.