Salt-preserved lemons


  • thin-skinned lemons (2 per 300 ml bottling space)
  • 2 tablespoons pure sea or rock salt per lemon, coarsely ground (do not use refined table or cooking salt)
  • spice selection: bay leaves, cinnamon quills, cloves, allspice berries, mustard seeds, caraway, coriander, fennel etc
  • lemons, extra, to juice
  • pure sea or rock salt, extra
  • sterilised plastic lidded jars (Vegemite jars are ideal)


The salt will draw the juice from the lemons, preserving the fruit and breaking down the skins so that they soften. The skins will darken in colour as time progresses. They are ready to use when skins are becoming translucent; they will eventually take on a deep amber hue. Rinse off excess salt before using to flavour fish dishes, cous-cous, soups and stews, stuffing mixtures, or fold through natural yoghurt as a condiment or side dish for rice dishes or grilled meats.


Starting at the base of each lemon, cut through its middle, leaving the stalk end intact. Rotate lemon 90° and repeat.
Gently prise open the lemons, first one way, then the other, and fill with salt. Press back together, and pack tightly into sterile glass jars, adding spices as you go. Sprinkle extra salt between each layer of fruit.
When packed as tightly as possible to just below the fill-line of the bottle, top with extra salt, and tap the base of the bottle to remove air bubbles. Add lemon juice to fill any gaps and air pockets.
Seal the jar, being careful not to let salt reach the lid (salt will corrode metal). Turn the jar every few days to more evenly distribute any undissolved salt for a week or two, and keep for at least 1 month before using.
If stored in jars with non-corrosive (eg plastic) lids, the lemons will keep for up to 2 years, and will continue to cure and darken in colour. If using jars with metal lids, use within 3 months, checking that the lids have not corroded.

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