Preserved Lemons

Preserved Meyer Lemons

As far as citrus is concerned, Meyer Lemons are at the top of my list of favorites. Unfortunately due to a short shelf-life and thin, easily damaged skin, it’s rare to find them outside areas where they are grown; and yet there they were, nestled between the apples and oranges, a bin full of plump golden Meyer Lemons.

Labelled “local lemons” and without the outrageous price tag I’ve often seen supermarkets try and charge, it took every ounce of self-restraint to keep myself from filling my cart with the sweet, fragrant citrus. Still, I stocked up feeling like this was some kind of fluke. Maybe the stocker mislabeled them, or perhaps the buyer bought a cheap batch not knowing what they were.

As suspected, they were no longer there upon my next visit, so after I had my fair share Meyer Lemon on on pasta, spread on toast and in desserts, I decided to preserve my remaining lemons so I could make their fragrant floral aroma linger in my pantry for just a little bit longer.

Preserved Meyer Lemons

Traditionally the lemons have an “X” cut into them two thirds of the way down, and are stuffed with salt, before being allowed to pickle in their own juices. This fermentation process takes about a month for the the lemons to become tender, and even longer for the flavor to fully mature. To speed things up, I like to slice the lemons into 1/4″ thick slices, which not only helps extract the juices, it speeds up the pickling process.

Once preserved, the lemons are tender with a perfect balance between tart and salty. You lose some of the brighter lemon flavors, but these are supplanted by deep earthy notes that add a wonderful flavor to everything from stews to salads.

Equipment you'll need:

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    Quick Preserved Lemons
  • Preserving Meyer lemons with salt and spices allows you to enjoy their aroma all year long.
Prep Time
10 minutes


  • 4 Meyer Lemons
  • 2 tablespoons sea salt
  • 2 chili peppers
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns


  1. Thoroughly scrub the lemons with warm water to remove any residue. Slice the ends off the lemon, then slice them crosswise into 1/4" thick circles.
  2. Put the lemons in a glass bowl and add the salt, chili peppers, cinnamon stick, cloves, coriander seeds, and black peppercorns. Toss to combine, then use the palm of your hand to press down on the lemons, to extract some juice.
  3. Pack the lemons into a glass jar and cover with the juice. If you're not using Meyer lemons, you may need to add extra lemon juice to cover the lemons.
  4. Cover the top of the jar with plastic wrap, then use a rubber band to hold the wrap in place. Do not use a sealed lid as the lemons will release gases as they ferment
  5. Leave the lemons in a cool dark place to ferment. You can use them after a week, but it's best to let them ferment for a couple weeks. Once they're at a place you're happy with, you can slow the fermentation by putting them in the fridge.
  • Tiffionna TheHuman Traweek

    My roommate the other day had these lemons that I had NEVER seen before. These were the biggest, most golden lemons I had ever seen, and they weren’t even that sour. The package was labelled Meyer Lemons and I had never seen them before. We have two giant bins of them at the local walmart for $3 a bag. Knowing now what they are, I think I’m going to go load up! Thanks for the info!

    • tregibbs

      Just a word of caution – real Meyer lemons are actually smaller than regular lemons, and usually darker in color.

  • Michelle Stutzman Jones

    I love this website! I have a Meyer lemon tree and so many lemons I’m afraid they’ll rot before I can use them. I saw the recipe for Lamb Tagine with Preserved Lemons – Shazam! I made a batch of lemons per the recipe – I’ll let you know in a few weeks how they turned out.


I'm Marc, and I want to teach you some basic techniques and give you the confidence and inspiration so that you can cook without recipes too!