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Over the past several years, I’ve enjoyed preserved lemons a number of times at Moroccan restaurants. Usually found accenting some sort tagine, this sweet, sour, salty pickle cuts through rich, heavy flavors offering a bright, lemony contrast. Made with only three ingredients, these Quick Preserved Lemons are a versatile condiment that comes together in snap (only 3 hours!). I must clarify, however, that these lemons aren’t actually preserved. The process outline below will result in a delicious relish that tastes very similar to traditional preserved lemons. Perhaps you’re thinking right now, I don’t make tagines very often (or at all), how else can I use this condiment? Preserved lemons can be used to punch up the flavor of a simply baked chicken breast or fillet of fish. Or add a spoonful to a heavier salad (farro, barley, wheat berry, etc.) to lighten the dish. Preserved lemons can also be added to stews, soups and vinaigrettes. Continue reading for the recipe.
Quick Preserved Lemons
- 4 unwaxed lemons (if waxed, scrub well)
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- Dice whole lemons (peel, pith and pulp). While dicing, pick out any seeds and discard. Place diced lemons with their juices in a bowl. Add kosher salt and sugar, tossing to combine. Transfer to a large jar and let sit for at least 3 hours at room temperature, shaking the jar a few times per hour. Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator.
This is a great thing to have on hand. I usually preserve my lemons with salt an olive oil and throw them in tangines. thanks for this!
Lori Lynn says
Oh I like this quick variety. I have some meyer lemons preserving in my basement, they’ve been there for about 3 weeks. Can’t wait to taste the results.
But I could use your quick recipe too!
Mmmm, that sounds delicious. I think I am going to try preserving meyer lemons next year.
Maralyn Hill says
This sounds great and I have some lemons in my yard.
This would certainly be a good use up.
Island Vittles says
great way to make preserved lemons in a hurry — thanks for the tip! Theresa
Hi, I have a quick question How long do these lemons last? a few weeks or months? Also what camera are you using to take these wonderful photos!?
Brandon @ Kitchen Konfidence says
I would say several weeks. I used about 7/8s of the jar shown above in two weeks. The remaining 1/8 kept in the fridge for a while longer.
I use a Canon Rebel T2i and switch between 50mm 1.4 and 100mm Macro 2.8 lenses.
Re: how long this preserved lemon will last, I checked the NY Times article and they say up to a week.
Brandon Matzek says
Hi Ellen, I feel like my jar of preserved lemons lasted for weeks. Almost a month!
Jen Holliday says
Fantastic! So glad I found this. I made preserved lemons a couple years back when I was learning about Moroccan food, but only used them once. I will still need to find recipes, but your technique is much more encouraging. I had a hard time with the traditional method of tightly packing the lemons and getting the juice to form a seal, and then I think they took 6 weeks, rotating periodically, and refilling the liquid… it’s no wonder I was over them by the time they were ready! Thanks!
Thankyu for the tips! Hmm just wondering if the lemons can be still preserved though without putting sugar only salt??? Or can we replace sugar to honey? And how to distinguish unwaxed lemons to waxed lemons????
Brandon Matzek says
Hi Christine, you can use just lemons and salt. Most lemons sold in regular grocery stores are waxed. Usually organic or farmer’s market lemons are unwaxed.