Salt-Preserved Lemons

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Makes


    preserved lemons

Appears in

America's Best Chefs Cook with Jeremiah Tower

America's Best Chefs Cook with Jeremiah Tower

By Jeremiah Tower

Published 2003

  • About

Use limes, kumquats (only a week to cure), and other sour citrus as well. And make sure that the spices you use are freshly bought.

Do not make these in small quantities; give some away as presents. Keep for up to 3 months in the refrigerator. To use, squeeze the juice from the lemon back into the jar, remove the seeds, and chop the whole thing.


  • 16 medium lemons, preferably organic
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 cups kosher salt
  • 10 whole allspice
  • 2 tablespoons fennel seed
  • 2 tablespoons black peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seed
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seed
  • 1 tablespoon black mustard seed
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 5 bay leaves
  • 4 cups freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 cup freshly squeezed lime juice


Roll each lemon around on the table for a minute to release its juices, and then cut an X 2 inches deep at both ends of each lemon.

Mix the sugar and salt together in a bowl. Roll each lemon in the mixture until well coated. Place the lemons in a big sterilized canning jar or other glass container, packing them in fairly tightly. Cover and leave at room temperature for 8 hours.

Mix all the spices, the cinnamon stick, and the bay leaves with the lemon juice and lime juice. Pour over the lemons, making sure that the liquid surrounds all the fruit. Weight down with a plate and can of something so that all the lemons stay submerged. Cover and leave out at room temperature for 1 week, turning the jar every day to evenly distribute the salt, spices, and juices. Then refrigerate for 3 to 4 weeks, again turning the lemons around in the container once a week.

At this point, strain the liquid and pour it back over the lemons. Keep them covered and refrigerated. Use as needed for up to 6 months.