Learn how to make preserved lemons recipe using fermentation!
Preserved lemons, also known as lemon pickle, lacto-fermented lemons, or salt preserved lemons are an essential ingredient in many Moroccan dishes. In the kitchen, they add a lot of freshness and flavour to simmered dishes (tajines), fish, and poultry.
Although they are readily available in specialized grocery stores, they are extremely easy to prepare at home. Only two essential ingredients are needed: lemons and salt.
In this recipe, whole lemons (including the peel!) are used. Fermented peel is the one most often used in cooking!
During the lacto-fermentation process, the peel loses its bitterness, which allows its fruity and fragrant flavours to emerge. Lemon becomes a tasty condiment, equally floral, salty, and tangy.
How to Choose My Ingredients?
As the lemon peel will be consumed, it is best to use organic lemons. The Meyer lemon type with thin skin gives better results.
You can also replace lemons with limes (yes, lime pickle are awesome too), or even any citrus fruit! Clementines, kumquats, and oranges are particularly interesting when lacto-fermented.
For more information, see How to lacto-ferment fruit.
Traditionally, lemons are not completely sliced. A deep cross is carved in the lemon and filled with salt. To simplify the process, they can just be cut into quarters. It will still taste good, I promise!
The salt used for fermentation should contain only one ingredient: salt. Adding iodine and other additives could affect fermentation. For more information, see Which salt to use for my fermentations?
Traditional candied lemons can contain a very large amount of salt. To allow room for flavour, we use about 2% salt in our recipe. However, you could go up to 3 or 4% (for more information see How much salt to use for lacto-fermentation?).
Spices are optional but open up a whole world of flavours! In this recipe, cinnamon, star anise, and cloves are added, which will blend in perfectly with your tajines and casseroles.
Explore other flavour profiles, according to your cravings:
- Bouquet garni (bay leaves, thyme, rosemary, etc.) for your Mediterranean dishes
- Fenugreek, ginger, garlic, and cumin for your curries, dhals, and casseroles
- Garlic, onion, coriander, and chili to add to your ceviches and salads
- Or simply plain!
For the extra touch, don’t hesitate to add hot pepper to your jar of salted candied lemons.
Preserved Lemons Recipe
- 1 Mixing bowl
- 1 Knife
- 1 Cutting board
- 1 ViscoDisc insert (large)
- 8 lemons or other citrus fruits
- 4 tsp. salt
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 4 cloves
- 2 star anises
- Water to cover
- Rinse the lemons with plenty of water and a little more if they are not organic. Water should not be too hot (<40°C).
- Cut off the ends of the lemons and cut into quarters. Remove the visible pips.
- In a bowl, mix the salt with the lemon wedges and crush them well with your hands.
- Press the salty lemons into the jar and incorporate the spices between the wedges.
- Cover the lemons with water. Fill up to about 2cm from the rim. Use a weight or ViscoDisc insert to keep the lemons submerged.
- Close the jars tightly and let ferment at room temperature for 30 days.
How to Use Lemon Pickle?
Lacto-fermented lemons are used wherever a recipe calls for lemon (peel or juice). The peel and flesh are used either chopped, minced, or pureed. This way you can make use of all the fruit!
These preserved lemons will have you exploring Moroccan, and Maghrebian cuisine with tajines, couscous, or vegetable and meat casseroles.
Preserved lemons add great flavour to risottos, soups, and pasta salads. They can also revolutionize mayonnaise, dips, dressings, or marinades.
Sweet and salty? Incorporate them into desserts, such as chocolate mousse or lemon pie. New tasting horizons to explore!
Lacto-fermented lemons can be kept for at least 6 months in the fridge. So that they will always be available to flavour your recipes!