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preserved-lemons-imageDo you want/need extra brownie points this Christmas? Have you forgotten anyone on your list and are scratching your head for ideas? Even if you aren’t in the doghouse for something or other, and you have been as organised as I have not, these wonderfully-easy preserved lemons will be most welcome.

If you have never had preserved lemons before, you are in for a treat. If you have had them – bought ones – these are many times better. Of course, if you make your own I won’t convince you that these are any better. I’m positive your preserved lemons are the bomb. But if you think that preserved lemons have to be made in two stages – stage one: let the lemons release their juice over several days; stage two: top with salt and spices – this is a one stage, make and seal recipe. I make it frequently; it always works.

The only (teensy) drawback is that you need to tell your recipient to hold off taking out the golden glistening lemons and tearing away the succulent skin for about a month. Three weeks at a minimum to soften the skin and make it delectably edible. Let them know that good things come to those who wait. That applies to you too. Wait patiently and you will be rewarded with an absolutely blissful addition to many, many savoury dishes. They keep for a year, but I truly doubt this statement will be tested.preserved-lemons-image

If you and your loved ones love Middle Eastern, North African or Mediterranean food, preserved lemons are the ideal accompaniment. Although this makes one quart jar’s worth, this is of course easily increased. Or you can do as I do and make it up in two smaller, wide-mouthed jars. One to keep and one to share.

As a side thought, if you have everything but the coarse salt don’t bother struggling through traffic or battling it out in the grocery store, just use table salt. Ordinary table salt. It will taste just fine.

This is my last proper post this week, unless I have a sudden brainwave that I feel compelled to share. Have a wonderful Christmas all of you. Enjoy every day of the festive season, whatever your faith.

preserved-lemons-imagePreserved Lemons – Quick and Easy

 8-10 unwaxed and well-scrubbed juicy-feeling lemons (unwaxed is very important) – 4-5 juiced and 4-5 quartered but still attached at the tip

 8 heaped tbsps coarse/rock salt (or 5 heaped tbsp table salt)

4 or 5 fresh bay leaves or 2-3 dried ones

2 heaped tbsp pink peppercorns, lightly crushed OR 1 tbsp black peppercorns

2 lightly crushed green cardamom pods (optional)

 Special equipment: 1 quart jar or two smaller wide-mouthed jars – sterilised. With vinegar-proof lids if possible, but I use a tear of parchment paper to act as an acid barrier. I place it over the open jar and just screw the lid on tightly.

 1. Stuff each quartered lemon with some of the salt and push it back to its original shape. Pop each into the sterilised jar(s), squishing the lemons to release juice. Add the remaining salt, the bay leaves, peppercorns and the cardamom.

 2. Top with the squeezed lemon juice, adding a little water if needed – just to cover the lemons. Seal and store for a month, turning a couple of times a week if remembered. These will keep up to a year without refrigeration, but I like to keep the in the refrigerator anyway. They are too perky and pretty to stash away out of sight!

 To use: with a small paring knife, separate the skin from the flesh and use the skin only – the flesh is really too salty, although I have used a smidge in salad dressings to no ill effect. Take the skin and chop it rather finely. Add sparingly as a seasoning into North African (especially any tagine), Middle Eastern and even many Mediterranean dishes. Perfect in salsas, dips, bean and grain dishes, as well as a snappy garnish/flavouring for soups, plain and exotic. I love a crafty sprinkle onto hummus as well as omelettes and vegetable-topped soccas.

 This recipe first appeared in my Quinoa Bowl With Citrus, Avocado and Edamame. I have also used it in the recent Lemony Kale, Quinoa and Chickpea Salad. Look out for another super simple recipe using preserved lemons in the very near future.preserved-lemons-imagepreserved-lemons-image

31 thoughts on “Preserved Lemons – an easy, no-cook edible gift idea

  1. bakesinslippers says:

    how beautiful does this look??

  2. Shannon says:

    I simply had no idea this could be done! You’re right about the pretty — I’d have to stack several in my lit transom cabinets for all to see. When my neighbor’s Meyer’s lemon tree is prolific and she passes extras to me, I’ll have to preserve some in this way. Looks to easy not to do.

    PS – I prefer the skins to the flesh anyway. When I juice a lemon for a dish, I twist a skinny skin slice in my tea, warm water, or (tee hee!) vodka soda. I chew on the skin when I’ve finished the drink for an extra (fresh breath) delight. My kids say they taste like lemon drops.

    1. You are right, it IS too easy not to make. With lemons (Meyer’s!) from your neighbour this would probably be cost-free too. The lemon and peel are quite different in taste. I like both but in different ways and for different things. I am a bit of a lemonhead. As well as a kale-aholic! PS thanks for your follow-up comment! I’m so glad you like coming by here, Shannon. Have an awesome Christmas.

  3. Shannon says:

    I just love coming to your blog. I always come away with something awesome for my cortex. Enjoy your holidays, Kellie!

  4. Laura says:

    This is so creative! Love them bad can’t wait to try them!

  5. I am always making dishes with a North African or Middle Eastern spin and oh how I love preserved lemons. I have yet to make my own (still sourcing from America or England in fact 😉 ), but I should try yours. I’m glad you made it more streamlined and took out the unnecessary steps! Happy holidays to you Kellie!

    1. Oh you must make this – or someone else’s. I pretty much guarantee that it will be better than bought. Thank you Katie for all of your immensely kind and thoughtful comments over the year. Have a brilliant festive season!

  6. Deb says:

    An outstanding holiday gift, easy to prepare and a welcome alternative (or addition!) to the season of sweets! Merry Christmas Kellie!

    1. Yes, as great as it is to get homemade cookies and fudge (!!) it is always good to get something like a savoury preserve that will keep and be useful for ages. Happy Christmas to you too, Deb. Enjoy your warmth!

  7. narf77 says:

    I wonder if anyone has ever tried this with other citrus fruits? Limes in particular come to mind but a jar of preserved blood oranges would look and taste amazing. Might have to experiment a bit when our citrus season is here (our winter). Cheers for the great share. I love preserved lemons but until now, have been slothful in my duties as chief cook and preserved lemon maker. Might have to change that ASAP now I see how easy (and unfiddly) they are to make. 🙂

    1. You know, I thought the same thing the other day about clementines. There are always loads around at this time of year (imported, of course) so it would be worth a wee experiment. How bad could it be?

      1. narf77 says:

        I am very curious as to what clementines actually are. I thought, at first, that they were mandarins, then I thought that they might be what we call tangerines but I think I am going to have to head off to Google and check because we just don’t get anything called “Clementine” here in Aus. I reckon it would be a fun experiment to make a few different batches of various citrus experiments. The worst it could get is something that tasted a bit strange and that had to be thrown away but the flip side is you would at least know…always a good outcome 🙂

  8. lizzygoodthings says:

    A beautiful idea for an edible gift, Ms Kellie… your photographs are just stunning too! Wishing you a peaceful and happy festive season. Thank you for your friendship and inspiration throughout the year xox

    1. And I wish you and your family a wonderful festive season and a healthy, happy 2014. So glad to have met you through our blogs. You are a gem x

  9. Violet says:

    What a great and pretty idea! Thanks for sharing! 🙂 Happy Holidays Kellie!!

    1. Happy holidays to you too, Violet.

  10. Deena Kakaya says:

    Oh my goodness Kellie, I knew this recipe would be good but it looks incredible! I can see so many ways to use it. Your photography is outstanding in this pic x

    1. Thank you, Deena. It is an incredibly easy and rewarding thing to make – for one’s self and others. Easiest thing to preserve, ever.

  11. Beautiful and such a great idea! Any food-lover would appreciate those. Merry Christmas!!

  12. Beautiful recipe and the composition of the photographs are mind bending. Happy Christmas!

  13. Ambermarie says:

    This is such a thoughtful, unique gift idea- and so visually pleasing! Thanks for sharing!

  14. This looks like something I should make! The husband loves Moroccan food, and I often come across a recipe that calls for preserved lemon and just skip it. Silly question – how can you make sure your lemons are unwaxed? Is an organic lemon unwaxed by default?

    1. Hi Katie! Good question. Ours are always labelled as such here in the UK but I still always give them a good scrub. If in doubt I would use a mild vinegar and water solution and thoroughly scrub. I know you would think to do this, but I’m writing this for anyone reading this who doesn’t know that vinegar will break down the waxy coating. Or use any proprietary vegetable wash.

  15. AEB says:

    I want to make these this year, as my sister and I are preparing gift baskets full of homemade goodies for some of our extended family. Could you suggest how I might multiply the recipe and jars in order to make enough for five people?

    1. You can put one lemon in each of 5 smaller jam jars, as long as the opening is wide enough. That’s what I’ve done this year. So, same recipe really. Just make sure to add the extra lemon juice to cover the lemons. The amounts to add will depend on how juicy the lemons are. Get a couple of bags at least. Hope they go down well. If your ‘giftees’ like it a bit spicy the recent rose harissa is really fab. I use it a lot in many different things. 🙂

      1. AEB says:

        My dearest blogger, I am not only also making your rose harissa, but even the raw red velvet brownies. In addition, I have already informed my family that I will be making the cauliflower cheese cake during my stay. You have no idea how much I (and those I love) have benefitted from your recipes over the years. Even more so, I hope, when I (eventually, inevitably) move to Cambridge with my British husband… I’ve been fantasizing about gathering nettles for AGES because of one of your posts!

      2. Wow, that is so nice of you to let me know. I really love the fact that occasionally I get invited into peoples’ kitchens with my recipes. I feel very privileged, and of course, honoured. Thanks for taking the time to let me know. I hope you enjoy what you make. 🙂

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