Perky preserved lemons

A common ingredient in Moroccan and some Middle Eastern cuisines, preserved lemons add a wonderfully complex citrus note to both sweet and savoury dishes. They can be expensive to buy, yet they’re so easy to make. Photography by Todd Eyre

  • 20 mins preparation
  • Makes 4
  • Print


Perky preserved lemons
  • 8 lemons
  • 1/2 cup sea salt per jar
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice per jar
  • 1 bay leaf per jar
  • Boiling water


Perky preserved lemons
  • 1
    Wash an assortment of jars, small and large, and dry in an oven heated to 120°C to sterilise. Pour boiling water over lids.
  • 2
    Scrub the lemons to remove any wax on the skin and rinse in cold water before cutting into quarters.
  • 3
    Pack lemons snugly into jar(s), layering with salt. Scatter peppercorns amongst the jars and add a quarter cup of lemon juice and a bay leaf to each jar. Pour in enough boiling water to slightly overflow each jar.
  • 4
    Screw on lids and leave to cool. Wipe the jars and store in a cool, dark place for at least 3 weeks, turning upside down occasionally to mix the salt and juices.
  • 5
    Wrap and gift, along with instructions to use the softened skin (discarding flesh and pith) in salad dressings, slow-cooked stews, cakes and icings to lend a beautiful citrusy tang.


A lot of recipes call for topping the jars with olive oil, but in Morocco, they use boiling water, so that’s what I use and it’s cheaper! Preserved lemons will last for months, but once opened, store in the fridge.

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