Preserved Lemons (and a bonus recipe)

Himself and Miss N came home from walking the dog last week with an eco ALDI bag full of Lemons. Apparently one of our neighbours round the corner had a pile on their front lawn with a sign for all to help themselves!

So what to do with 20-odd lemons? The first thing that sprang to mind was Preserved Lemons. I love the flavour these little delights give to food and always end up buying the tiny overpriced jars from the deli as I never seem to have enough lemons or time to make them myself. I’ve not tried this before, however it worked an absolute treat so i thought I would share:)

Step 1 – Wash your lemons, and gather your bits & pieces

– 1 x Clean Sterilized Jar

– Approx 1/2 Cup Sea Salt (and a bit more for the pot….we all know I never measure!)

– Extra lemons for juicing

Step 2 – Prepare Your lemons

– Cut approx a 1/4 inch off both ends of each lemon

– Make a slice crossways 3/4 of the way down into each lemon

– Fill each lemon with salt & rub some into skins

Step 3 – Fill Your Jar

– Place approx 3 or 4 tablespoons of the salt into the bottom of the jar

– Squash each lemon down into the jar so a good amount of the juice is released

– Keep adding lemons and packing them down until the jar is full

– Use the juice from some extra lemons to add to the jar so that all the lemons are completely covered with juice

– You may need to use a few short pieces of wooden skewer or a piece of baking paper to hold the lemons under the juice

– Pop the lid on and store in a cool dry place for at least 4-6 weeks. This will allow time for the salt to do its job and extract the juice from the lemons and soften the rinds. Keep checking the jar every week or so to ensure the lemons are staying under the liquid and all is AOK.


Always use a jar like the one shown, or one with a glass or plastic lid. Metal lids can corrode with the citric acid.

The longer you leave the lemons, the better they will taste!

Always stick on a little label with the name of the preserve and the date made.

When you use the lemon in your cooking, use the entire fruit. The rinds will have softened and will slice up beautifully. The flavour will be a strong, tangy kick-in-your-face lemon hit which is FABulous when added to a Middle eastern-inspired tagine, a yummy casserole or plenty of other savoury dishes. I have added my tried-and-tested Recipe for Morroccan Tagine below. Hope it inspires you to cook up a treat!!

Danni’s Moroccan Meatball Tagine

NOTE: I am USELESS at measurements (funny, considering how much I bake..however!) I cook by taste and look and taste again, so I have tried my best to approximate the amounts for this recipe. The best advice i can give you is that it feeds 4 and a half (4 adults, one preschooler!) and if you need a bit more or a bit less, just add it and adjust to taste. That’s the fun of cooking!!!


500g lamb mince

1/2 cup breadcrumbs (whatever you have is fine – leftover sourdough works a treat!)

A good big handful of chopped parsley & corriander (stems and all)

1/2 finely diced brown onion

A dash of smokey paprika (I prefer the bittersweet kind, you can use whatever you like)

Salt & cracked black pepper to taste

A good trick I learned from watching Luke Nguyen (from Sydney’s Red Lantern) is to pick up your mince and slam it down into the bowl, continuously for about 5 mins. This allows the proteins in the meat to start coming together and means that you do not need to add an egg to bind the mixture.

Form your mince into bite-size meatballs and fry in a little oil in your tagine until browned. Set aside whilst you cook the sauce.

NOTE: Tagines are Moroccan cooking pots. They can be used on a gas cook-top or even on your BBQ. I just stick mine straight on the grill and it works fine. I have one by Emile Henry and its fantastic. I would recommend you buy a good brand – take care of it and it should last you a lifetime. They are available from most good kitchenware and department stores and also online from Victoria’s Basement HERE.  If you don’t have a Tagine just use a big deep saucepan or similar with a lid.


2 x small cloves garlic – minced

1 x diced brown onion

1 x diced green capsicum/eggplant/zucchini (whichever you prefer and/or have on hand – and yes, of course you can have several!)

2 x cans diced tomatoes (of course you can use fresh, if so you may need a little tomato paste – i just find the canned version heaps easier)

A good handful fresh parsley & coriander

1/2 preserved lemon, sliced fairly fine

Approx 1 teasp. Smokey paprika

Approx 1 teasp. Cumin powder

Salt & cracked black pepper to taste

Using the Tagine again on a med heat (that you have just cooked your meatballs in) fry off your onions and garlic & spices in a little oil.

Add your vegetables and fry for 1 minute and then add your tomatoes to de-glaze and scrape of all the yummy crusty bits from the bottom of the pan.

Turn the heat down to a low simmer, add in the meatballs and the lemons and pop the lid on and cook for approx 15-20 mins or until the sauce develops and the meatballs are cooked through.

Finally, crack into the pan 1 x egg per person and gently poach until the yolks are almost set.

Serve ontop of hot couscous, sprinkle with the parsley & corrinader and a big dollop of natural yoghurt.

YUMMO!! Always a big hit in our house!



  1. […] The lemons are actually a little gamble as I wouldn’t normally put them through the preserve machine at all.  However – the last few times I have made them the skewers holding them in the jar broke and the tops have raised out of the juice and gone mouldy in storage so I figured i would give this way a go just to see what happens.  In theory, it should work.  The whole idea of the preserving machine (the hot water bath method) is that it kills the bacteria in the high acid foods you have bottled, taking the air out of the jars and forming the vacuum seal.  Since all the preserved lemons I buy in the deli are vacuum sealed, I figured maybe this is how they do it??  Anyways – we shall see.  The bottles are all cooling at the moment and the lid of the lemons is taking quite a long time to suck in so I’m only half hopeful at this point that vacuum sealing will occur!!   If it does – awesome.  Part one has been achieved and we just have to wait a few weeks/months for them to develop a bit so we can try them out.   I have a favourite recipe using preserved lemons you may want to check out here. […]

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