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Preserved Lemons Recipe

Written by the YesChef staff

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Erez Komarovsky Gaining Control in the Kitchen
Erez Komarovsky Gaining Control in the Kitchen
Erez Komarovsky
Teaches his Israeli Cuisine
Learn how to make the best preserved lemons with an easy, homemade recipe from chef Erez Komarovsky, who has been called the “Godfather of Modern Israeli Cuisine.” Discover the basics about preserved lemons and figure out how to incorporate this flavor bomb into sweet and savory dishes alike.
Chef Erez Komarovsky
Teaches his Israeli Cuisine

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What Are Preserved Lemons?

Learn how to make the best preserved lemons with an easy, homemade recipe from chef Erez Komarovsky, who has been called the “Godfather of Modern Israeli Cuisine.” Discover the basics about preserved lemons and figure out how to incorporate this flavor bomb into sweet and savory dishes alike.

What Are Preserved Lemons Good For?

Salt-preserved lemons add an acidity, brightness of color, and a sharp, complex flavor to all kinds of dishes. In Morocco, for example, preserved lemons are a key ingredient in traditional foods such as stews and tagines. Elsewhere in the world, salt-cured preserved lemons are used to elevate dishes and drinks as diverse as salad dressing and yogurt; hummus and dessert – even boozy beverages like martinis and margaritas.

What Do Preserved Lemons Taste Like?

Fresh lemons tend to contain a bitter (from the lemon peel) and ultra-citrusy (from the lemon juice) taste. Once preserved, however, all of that sharpness mellows and the lemon flavor intensifies, giving way to a wonderfully tart and savory bite. This is because the process breaks down the lemon peel into a smooth, silky, almost satiny texture.

Can You Eat All of a Preserved Lemon?

Yes. You may eat the entire lemon – peel and all – but we suggest taking out the lemon seeds.

What Types of Lemons Should I Use?

For the best flavor, Erez recommends using loquat lemons, which are small and sweet. Or, if those lemons are too hard to find, he suggests going with Meyer lemons, whose taste isn’t at all bitter. Erez makes his preserved lemons in winter, when lemons are at their ripest and their skin isn’t too thick. If you don’t have any loquat or Meyer lemons handy, Eureka lemons, which are the regular lemons most often found in grocery stores, will work.

Best Way to Preserve Lemons

Pickled lemons are best preserved in a sterilized canning jar with fresh lemon juice and salt. Erez uses Atlantic sea salt to make his preserved lemons, but kosher salt or other types of salt work as well. The sea salt (or kosher salt) will function as a preserving agent and, when added to all the lemons and fresh lemon juice, will be key to creating the perfect jar of pickled lemons. After putting his lemons into the sterilized canning jar, Komarovsky adds freshly squeezed lemon juice and more salt inside – and then additional lemon juice so that there’s enough lemon juice to completely cover the lemons.

Cooking with Preserved Lemons

There are countless culinary uses for fresh lemons with salt; their unique bite and umami flavor make them a complex addition to many dishes. “Lovely with calamari and unbelievable with fish and with chicken,” Erez says, homemade preserved lemons can even be puréed into a preserved lemon paste for use in salad dressings and vinaigrettes, creamy pasta sauces, and frostings for sweet treats like cakes, cookies, muffins, and scones.

Preserved Lemons Recipe

Serves: 4
|
Hands-on: 10 mins
|
Total: 48 hrs

Ingredients

  • 10 lemons, preferably Meyer lemons
  • Atlantic sea salt
  • Olive oil

Gear

  • Knife
  • Lemon squeezer
  • Jar, sterilized and sealable
  • Cutting board

Recipe

  1. Cut 8 lemons into quarters lengthwise, stopping just before you reach the opposite end, as to leave the bottom part attached.
  2. Stuff each lemon with sea salt and gently press together.
  3. Cut the 2 remaining lemons in half and juice them, creating lemon juice. 
  4. Arrange the salted fresh lemons in a jar.
  5. Cover your jar of lemons with the lemon juice and sprinkle a little more sea salt. The lemon juice will melt the sea salt and create a brine. The lemon juice will also help cover the lemons so they do not oxidize. 
  6. Cover and rest your jar of fresh lemons and fresh lemon juice on a clean countertop surface for 24 hours, after which you will shake it and let it sit for another 24 hours.  
  7. After 48 hours, open your jar and drizzle olive oil on top of your lemons and fresh lemon juice. Close the jar tightly and let your soon-to-be preserved lemons sit for a week.
  8. Rinse with salt, discard the seeds and use as directed in your favorite recipes.
  9. Store remaining jarred lemons in a cool, dark place for up to 1 year.
Erez Komarovsky Gaining Control in the Kitchen
Erez Komarovsky Gaining Control in the Kitchen

Erez Komarovsky

Renowned chef, baker, and cookbook author celebrated as the “Godfather” of modern Israeli cuisine, Erez Komarovsky takes viewers on a  journey to discover the roots of his Middle Eastern cuisine. Starting from the bustling markets of Tel Aviv, Israel to his blissful home in the North Galilee, Erez teaches viewers how to bake his “flowering” Challah and Pita breads, plus his signature dishes including Lamb Kebabs, Hummus Mezze with Falafel, Harissa Chicken, Fish Crudo and more.

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