Easy, Israeli food, Sephardi

RECIPE: Pickled or Preserved Lemons

pickled lemons

Pickled lemons? You’re probably imagining someone taking a bite out of a lemon as if it were an apple. But pickled lemons, also known as “preserved lemons” aren’t at all like, for instance, pickled cucumbers. Pickled lemons are more like a Mediterranean condiment. You use the peel to add brightness and depth of flavor to salads and fish dishes.

While the peel is considered the edible part of the pickled lemon, some canny cooks extend the power of pickled lemons by blending the whole fruit into a slurry which can be added to dishes by the spoonful. This is an easy pickle to make. The only special equipment you need is a jar. They aren’t difficult to make and dress up even a dish of humble mashed sardines.

Why not give this recipe a whirl while bright yellow lemons are in season?

Pickled Lemons


  • 4 lemons
  • 4 tablespoons sea salt
  • Juice of 4 lemons or more to cover


Scrub lemons well. Cut each lemon into quarters, without cutting all the way through, so that all quarters remain attached at stem end. Stuff each lemon with a generous amount of the salt. Place in glass pint jar, pressing to squish the lemons in so they are packed tightly. Close the jar.

Let sit 3-4 days. Press lemons down as far into the jar as possible and add fresh lemon juice to cover the fruit completely. Close jar and leave in cool place for at least one month and up to one year. The longer you leave them, the better.

Rinse the peel before using and discard the pulp, using only the peel. Or, like one cooking maven friend, blend the whole fruit in your food processor, storing the resulting slurry in your refrigerator.

Note: if the lemon develops a white film of mold, don’t worry, it’s harmless, just rinse it off.