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Fresh lemons with salt added and placed in a jar to start the preserving process.

Preserved Lemons, Ottolenghi-style

Beth Lee
Preserved lemons are the kitchen condiment you might be missing! This preserved lemon recipe is based on the Ottolenghi version in the Jerusalem cookbook. Once you taste a preserved lemon, you'll wonder where this deeply flavorful citrus has been all your life!
4.47 from 54 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Preserving time 30 days
Total Time 30 days 15 minutes
Course Condiment
Cuisine Mediterranean, Middle Eastern
Servings 16
Calories 4 kcal


  • 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


  • 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). Add about 1 tablespoon of kosher salt to each lemon. 
    Fresh lemons cut and filled with salt on a wooden cutting board with a knife next to it.
  • 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 and close it up.
    Jar of preserved lemons with a lemon plate in the background.
  • 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. Right before you refrigerate, top with a seal of olive oil, then place in the refrigerator and start experimenting!
    Top down view of open jar of lemons ready to have olive oil added and be placed in the refrigerator.


  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.


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