Homemade Preserved Lemons Recipe: DIY Preserved Lemons In 4 Simple Steps by Jan Mostrom

Homemade Preserved Lemons Recipe: DIY Preserved Lemons In 4 Simple Steps

Once in a while I find recipes calling for preserved lemons, and I never seem to have them in my kitchen. So I decided to see if I could make preserved lemons at home. You can, and it's so easy! It only takes a short 15 minutes and then about three to four weeks for the lemons to break down and be ready to use. Once you open the homemade preserved lemons they will last in the refrigerator for several weeks. Start exploring and you'll be amazed at how versatile they are in saladssauces, salad dressings and more!

The simple ingredients to make preserved lemons are lemons, salt, lemon juice and bay leaves. To make this preserved lemon recipe you will need one jar with a tight-sealing lid and three to four weeks for them to sit and ferment. After three to four weeks, use by removing a section and cutting the flesh from the skin. Discard flesh and use the skin by finely slicing or chopping. Remember they are salty, so keep that in mind before adding additional salt or seasonings to your dish.

Enjoy these fermented lemons in recipes or substitute when recipes call for lemon zest for a bit of extra zing. Try them with plain yogurt drizzled over meats or vegetables. Or you can add them to olive oil and lemon juice for a simple and tasty addition to grilled fish. The possibilities are endless!

Fun Fact: Preserved lemons originated in north Africa, but have spread worldwide now and are popular in Middle Eastern, Indian, Asian and Mediterranean cuisine.

Cuisine: African / Mediterranean / Middle Eastern
Prep Time: 15 minutes plus 3 to 4 weeks to sit
Cook Time: 0 minutes

Total Time: 15 minutes plus 3 to 4 weeks to sit
Servings: Makes 1 jar


  • 4 - 5 thick-skin lemons, organic if possible, washed and sliced into 4 quarters lengthwise
  • extra lemon juice
  • salt (table salt, kosher salt, sea salt)
  • 1 - 2 bay leaves (optional)

Here's how to make it: 

  1. Wash the jar with boiling water to sterilize it. 
  2. Place 1 tablespoon of salt in the bottom of jar and then add four lemon quarters, squeezing the juice as you place them in the jar. 
  3. If adding bay leaves slide them into jar and then continue adding another 1 tablespoon of salt and four lemon quarters in layers until jar is packed full.
  4. Finish with another 1 tablespoon of salt and extra lemon juice to fill the jar. Close lid tightly and put into a pantry or dark cabinet for three to four weeks or longer. Once opened the lemons should be kept in the refrigerator.

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Mason Jars
Mason Jars $6 & Up
Salt $1 & Up
Bay Leaves
Bay Leaves $3 & Up

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Elisa Schmitz
Never would have thought of this. Love your adventurous spirit and cooking creativity, Jan Mostrom !
I never knew what preserved lemons were when I saw that ingredient in recipes. Helpful tip.
Jan Mostrom
bepositive it was new to me too not that long ago. When I first saw it in a recipe I couldn't find any in my local stores so I just learned to make it myself!
Jan Mostrom
Cassiday my new batch is just about ready to try!

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