Preserved Lemon (About, Lacto-Fermented)

Preserved Lemons from LaProvence

Preserved Lemons from LaProvence

By Cat, June 2010  (Photo, right, by Cat)

We have a new public market here in Bigfork, every Wednesday evening from 5 to 8 PM, right in the village. June 9, 2010 was the first one, and I bought a jar of preserved lemons from the Guizol family booth (made by LaProvence, the Guizol’s restaurant). The jars look like bottled sunlight! I’d never heard of them prior to this market, so I’m researching how to use them. They come to us from North Africa (Morocco) via France. They are preserved in salt, a version of lacto-fermentation that has been used for centuries. Although they are in a canning jar, they have not been canned (not heat-treated) so are a fermented, living food.

About Preserved Lemons

From Suite 101, Moroccan Food (1):

“Preserved lemons are ready to use after 4 weeks, but they will continue to mature for up to 6 months and develop a sweet, almost honeyed taste, and a softer texture.

Both the rind and the flesh of the preserved lemon can be chopped and used in tapenades, marinades, couscous, and [fish] or chicken dishes. Preserved lemon may be diced finely and whipped into butter for a quick fish topping. The juice can also be added to any dish where lemon flavour is needed”

“Often a lacy white film develops on the preserved lemons; this is fine and does not mean that the lemons have spoiled. When removing whole preserved lemons or quarters, handle as little as possible to avoid contamination. Use a clean wooden spoon or skewer.”

Check out the Serious Eats blog for a great post on “The Secret Ingredient: Preserved Lemons” (2). This article includes three very different ways to use this wonderful preserved product: Preserved Lemon Citrus Chicken with Chervil Gremolata (which I have adapted as Preserved Lemon Citrus Chicken with Chervil Gremolata); Parmesan, Preserved Lemon, and Thyme Wafers; and Preserved Lemon Semifreddo with Basil Syrup.

Preserving Lemons (Fermentation Process)

From Food for Thought (uses oil (3)) and Stephen Cooks(uses lemon juice (4)).

  1. Select small, round lemons (Meyer lemons are traditional, but any variety can be used). Cut them into quarters lengthwise, but leave the quarters attached at one end.
  2. Stuff each with 1 – 2 Tbsp kosher salt (1 Tbsp for small lemons). Place in sterilized jar; add desired whole spices (such as coriander, allspice, bay leaf, cinnamon stick, etc.). Press down on the lemons to get the juices flowing. Cover jar and let sit at room temperature.
  3. Next day: remove cover and press down on the lemons again, using a clean implement (I have a tiny potato masher that just fits into a wide-mouth jar, that I use for this). Replace cover and let sit at room temperature for a week.
  4. Every 2-3 days, remove the cover and press down the lemons to release juice. Remember to use a clean implement to do this, or a clean hand.
  5. After a week, the juice should cover the lemons. Add enough olive oil or freshly-squeezed lemon juice so that the lemons are covered. Refrigerate (or keep in cold root cellar) for 3 weeks before using. Ensure that they remain submerged throughout. They will continue to ripen for 6 months for even more pronounced lemony-sweetness.


  1. Suite 101, Moroccan Food:
  2. Serious Eats:  “The Secret Ingredient: Preserved Lemons (
  3. Food for Thought instructions (
  4. Stephen instructions (

Preserved Lemon Recipes, Other Sites

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