Preserved Lemon Recipe

Heather Dessinger

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how to preserve lemons ferment

Lemons are my sunshine in winter. I don’t know what it is, but I just love them this time of year. And that’s a good thing, because they’re loaded with immune boosting vitamin C. They’re also great for digestion and their fragrance is known to improve mood.

This preserved version has the added benefit of probiotic goodness. So why not give them a spot on your menu? Although they are traditionally used in Moroccan dishes, this culinary delight is also wonderful in a refreshing lemon pudding, a zesty tabbouleh or a fabulous preserved lemon and mint alllioli. You’ll love all the uses you’ll find for the rind, which becomes edible during the preservation process.

how to preserve lemons ferment
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4.34 from 3 votes

Preserved Lemon Recipe

Calories 0kcal
Author Mommypotamus


  • 6 thin skinned organic or at least not irradiated lemons. Meyer lemons seem to be preferred because they are sweeter, but I've only tried the plain jane variety.
  • 1-1½ cups additional freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tbs whey optional
  • ½ cup unrefined sea salt


  • Scrub lemons and cut them into quarters
  • Pour salt in a shallow bowl and begin rolling your lemon quarters. Place salted quarters in a 1-quart mason jar.
  • Leaving one inch of room at the top of the jar pour in the lemon juice.
  • Cover the jar and shake to release any trapped air bubbles, then loosen the lid so that air can escape.
  • Leave at room temperature for 1 day, then check to make sure the lemons are completely submerged in juice. Add juice if needed, then cover again loosely.
  • Store at room temperature for six more days. Shake the jar at lease once per day.
  • Your preserved lemons are ready!! Use right away or store in the fridge for later.


Calories: 0kcal | Carbohydrates: 0g | Protein: 0g | Fat: 0g | Saturated Fat: 0g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0g | Trans Fat: 0g | Cholesterol: 0mg | Sodium: 0mg | Potassium: 0mg | Fiber: 0g | Sugar: 0g | Vitamin A: 0IU | Vitamin C: 0mg | Calcium: 0mg | Iron: 0mg

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Heather is a holistic health educator, herbalist, DIYer, Lyme and mold warrior. Since founding in 2009, Heather has been taking complicated health research and making it easy to understand. She shares tested natural recipes and herbal remedies with millions of naturally minded mamas around the world. 

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23 thoughts on “Preserved Lemon Recipe”

  1. I happen to know more about lemons than any other fruit or vegetable. They are my favorite of favorites. My teeth are evidence of it too!!
    I will be doing this as soon as we get back from the grocery store. Citrus fest should be happening at Central Market soon too…love this time of year!!!

  2. This is probably a very insignificant question, but I am a details person: When you shake the jar once per day, do you also open it to let out the air, or is the first time you do that the only time?

    Sounds yummy!

    • That’s actually a really good question. When I make saurkraut in my crock I’ve learned it’s important to leave the crock sealed until the process is complete. The gases help the culturing process along. I’d guess it’s the same in this case, although you do want to let some air escape by leaving the lid a little loose so the jar doesn’t explode.

      • Having an airlock system takes all the guesswork out. Anaerobic fermentation also goes through a bit of a different process since the air cannot get in. It also cuts out any chance of mold and there is another “layer” of fermentation that can’t happen when air is introduced.

  3. I wanted to thank you for this great read!! I definitely enjoying every little bit of it I have you bookmarked to check out new stuff you post.

  4. It is recipes like this that make me yearn for a second fridge. Id put up a large batch every year!!! Sunshine in a jar.

    • I hear you, Mama Kelly! Since becoming a real foodie I have acquired an extra fridge and a deep freezer! When the opportunity to order items like alaskan salmon straight from the fisherman come up only once a year I like to stock up!

  5. As long as you keep them refrigerated, do you need the whey? I don’t have any right now, but I am anxious to try this recipe. It sounds wonderful!

    • Hi Jessica – There are recipes out there that only call for salt, but they use a lot more (salt keeps them from molding in the “in-between” time while the beneficial bacteria is getting started0. Whey does the same thing but you need less of it . . . and I prefer mine less salty. Does that make sense?

  6. Hi! I’m going to make these tomorrow! Finally got some lemons, and I am making some whey as we speak! One quick question. In the instructions, it doesn’t say at what point we need to add the whey in. I am assuming we add it in step #3 when we add the lemon juice? Sooooo excited!

    • Yep! Thanks for calling that to my attention. BTW, the rind continues to become more digestible as the fermentation process continues (at a slower pace) in the fridge. If you want to speed it up you could leave it on the counter a few more days.

  7. I know that this is an old post but I have a bunch of lemons to use and thought of this post that I read. Question – what do you do with the lemons once they are ready? Put in recipes? Eat plain?

    Thanks 🙂

  8. This is great! Thank you!
    Is there a spot where you list some of the things to do with the lemons once they are ready?
    You don’t happen to have an indian pickle recipe, do you? I went to india a few years back and they had jars of lemons like this, but they also had some other things in there too (maybe carrot, mango, couldn’t tell what all was pickled) and it was in a turmeric mustardy colored sauce. They put a small spoon of it onto each plate of food to aid digestion and it was delicious and I can’t figure out a recipe that is similar!
    I asked a local indian friend who has a restaurant and she said she’d never give out a recipe like that, somehow it seemed too precious to share, like a family recipe.

  9. I’ve always pickles lemons with vinegar and absolutely adore them in taboule and Greek salads! I have been wanting to try lactofermenting but I was curious about the salt and if so much is necessary just because I try to keep my diet as low in sodium as possible because I seem super prone to bloating, which is why I tend to do a lot of icebox pickles with no salt. :O