I have a wonderful recipe for Moroccan Chicken ((I’ll be sharing it soon!) that is a packed with flavor and makes a great weeknight meal, even though it sounds very exotic. However, there’s one ingredient that can be hard to find — and expensive when you do — preserved lemons.
The preserved lemons give the dish a zip and a zing that it lacks if you skip them or substitute regular lemons. So after using up the last of the jar I purchased, I decided to make my own.
Turns out, these are really easy to make, and they last a long time, too — up to six months in the fridge. So, they also make a good food gift. (Hint: Pin this recipe,, then make a batch for neighbor gifts and teacher gifts next Christmas.)
The only downside to this preserved lemon recipe is you have to be patient. It takes a month for the lemons to be ready to use. So, make some now and you’ll be able to serve my Moroccan Chicken (recipe coming soon!) for Valentine’s Day.
If you’re trying to eat healthier, preserved lemons are a great staple to have in your refrigerator. They add such wonderful flavor to your recipes, without the addition of calories and fat.
I found a preserved lemon recipe from NPR, and that’s the one I followed because of its simplicity.
I made only one slight adjustment. The original recipe calls for sea salt, but I substituted kosher salt, which was used in other recipes I found.
To get started, I gathered my ingredients — lemons and salt — and tools I would need. I sterilized some canning jars and lids in the dishwasher.
I washed each lemon and quartered it, being careful to leave the stem end intact.
Next, I stuffed each lemon with a tablespoon of salt, being careful to coat each quarter. Then, I stuffed the lemons into jars.
And by stuffed, I really mean stuffed. Wrestle as many full lemons into a jar as you can. I ended up consolidating my lemons into two jars. A wide mouth jar is essential or you’ll squirt yourself in the face with lemon juice and make a mess of the kitchen.
Once the jars are filled, seal them and set them aside in a cool place for three or four days.
On the third or fourth day, open the jars and push the lemons down to release the juice. Your goal is to have the lemons covered in juice. You may need to add juice from some freshly squeezed lemons to accomplish this.
Seal the jars and store them in a cool place. Then wait at least a month before using them.
When you remove a lemon from the jar, remove the pulp and rinse the peel to remove the salt. You’ll use the preserved lemon rind in recipes. If any of the peel was not covered with juice, it may develop a whitish mold on it. The recipes I consulted said this is harmless, and it can be washed off.
Preserved lemons are used primarily in Moroccan cuisine, but Apartment Therapy’s The Kitchn has a list of great ideas for using preserved lemons in your cooking. You can also find a list of 31 dishes that use preserved lemons at Food.com.