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Ottolenghi Preserved Lemons Meyer Lemons filled with salt on bamboo cutting board

Ottolenghi Preserved Lemons

Once you taste this umami-rich citrusy condiment called preserved lemons, you'll wonder why you waited this long to start cooking with them.
4.23 from 31 votes
Prep Time 15 mins
Preserving time 30 d
Total Time 30 d 15 mins
Course Condiment
Cuisine Mediterranean, Middle Eastern
Servings 16
Calories 4 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 6 - 8 lemons Meyer, Eureka, Lisbon
  • 6 - 8 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 cup lemon juice approximately - enough to cover the lemons in the jar after one week
  • 1 sprig rosemary optional
  • 2 sprigs thyme optional
  • 10 peppercorns optional
  • 1 spicy red pepper optional
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Instructions
 

  • Sterilize your 1 qt glass jar canning jar (run through dishwasher, run under very hot water, use your instant pot) - just make sure it is clean.
  • Cut 2 slits in each lemon to create a well to put the salt in, being careful not to slice all the way through. If you do, no big deal, many people preserve quartered lemons. It will work too. 
    Ottolenghi Preserved Lemons closeup of lemon with slit and salt
  • Add about 1 tablespoon of kosher salt to each lemon. 
    Fresh lemons on a cutting board with slits cut in them filled with kosher salt.
  • Place the lemons in the glass jar fitting them in as tightly packed as you can.
    Jar of lemons with salt already in them about to start the preserving process.
  • Close the jar and let them sit in a cool dry place for about a week. You'll notice juice beginning to accumulate in the jar. 
  • After a week, open the jar, add your aromatics of choice - thyme, rosemary, peppercorns, coriander, cardamom, star anise, cinnamon, a whole pepper - your taste buds can be your guide. Then cover the lemons and aromatics with enough lemon juice to cover them all. Top with a bit of olive oil and close it up. Let it sit out in that cool dry place for 3 or 4 more weeks. You can occasionally shake it about if you'd like. Then place in the refrigerator and start experimenting!
    Top down view of jar with lemons that has lemon juice added to the top.

Video

Notes

  1. Some recipes for preserved lemons add the juice to cover the lemons from the very beginning along with the aromatics, rather than waiting a week.  This works too!
  2. Use organic, unwaxed lemons if at all possible. If not, be sure to scrub the outer skins well to remove any coating.
  3. Remember to store the jar in a cool place, preferably under 70 degrees, until you refrigerate them. Warm environments are not optimal for preservation. 
  4. If white mold develops on any of your lemons, it is generally harmless - just remove/rinse it off. Other colors of mold are not good and if you see that, toss the lemons. I have never had any issues except a touch of white mold once. And it was indeed harmless.

Nutrition

Calories: 4kcalCarbohydrates: 1gSodium: 194mgPotassium: 15mgVitamin A: 15IUVitamin C: 7.4mgCalcium: 1mg
Keyword lemons, Ottolenghi, preserved lemons
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