Prep Cook Yield Ready In
10 minutes 4 weeks 2 pints 4 weeks

North African Preserved Lemons Recipe

A traditional recipe that will add big flavor to your cooking.

Lemons preserved in a salt brine are a staple of North African cuisine. Try a small amount of diced preserved lemon in grain salads, pasta dishes, with fish, in salad dressings as well as in all your Middle Eastern-inspired tagines and stews. Preserved lemons also make an impressive edible gift. The cinnamon sticks in this recipe are an especially Jewish addition.


This recipe is reprinted from The Joys of Jewish Preserving with permission.


  • 6-7 organic lemons
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups kosher salt
  • 3 dried red chiles
  • 2 cinnamon sticks


  1. Sterilize a quart-sized jar by filling it with boiling water, draining it, and allowing it to air-dry. Place a layer of kosher salt at the bottom, about one tablespoon.
  2. Cut a deep X into the tops of four of the lemons, but do not cut through the bottom. Place a tablespoon of salt inside each lemon.
  3. Place the first lemon in the jar and press down on it with the end of a wooden spoon to flatten it and release the juice. Layer 1/4 cup of salt around the lemon.
  4. Repeat with the remaining three, cut lemons.
  5. Juice the two uncut lemons and add the juice to the jar. The lemons in the jar should be submerged in a mixture of salt and lemon juice. If they are not, add another 1/4 cup of salt and the juice of an additional lemon.
  6. Slip the chiles and cinnamon sticks into the jar.
  7. Cover the jar and store in a cool, dark place for four weeks, shaking several times a week to distribute the salt.
  8. After a month, the lemon rinds should be soft and pliable.
  9. Remove the lemons from the jar and rinse off the excess salt. Place two lemons in each pint jar with some of the brine. Store the jar in the refrigerator, where it will keep for six months.
  10. To use, scrape off the flesh and use the rind only.

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