Preserved lemons are an essential item for any kitchen cupboard. Hailing from Middle Eastern, North African and Mediterranean cuisines, you will find many uses for this intense burst of savoury citrus flavour from fish to salad dressings.  If you do not already use it in your cooking, once you have a jar there is no going back. |

You can find preserved lemons in gourmet and ethnic food stores, but are just as easily prepared at home.

1. Place 2 Tbsp of salt in the bottom of a sterilized jar.

2. One by one, prepare the lemons in the following way. Cut off any protruding stems then cut the tip off each lemon. Cut the lemons as if you were going to cut them in half lengthwise, starting from the tip, but do not cut all the way. Keep the lemon attached at the base. Make another cut in a similar manner, so now the lemon is quartered, but again, attached at the base.

3. Pry the lemons open and generously sprinkle salt all over the insides and outsides of the lemons.

4. Pack the lemons in the jar, squishing them down so that juice is extracted and the lemon juice rises to the top of the jar. Fill up the jar with lemons, making sure the top is covered with lemon juice. Add more freshly squeezed juice if necessary. Top with a couple of tablespoons of salt.

5. Seal the jar and let sit at room temperature for a couple days before transferring to the refrigerator. As with all good things, they take time – a month at least, 3 is better – turning the jar occasionally is recommended.

Using preserved lemon is easy. Some recipes say to wash before use to reduce the salt and just to use the rind but it is all good (apart from the pips – which should be removed as they are unpleasant to munch on).


Mary Duff is a Food Technologist who loves food and gardening. She is so dedicated that she picks the aphids off one by one, and finds cleaning the dirt from under her nails to be quite therapeutic. Mary is originally from a beef and cropping farm on the South Canterbury border so perhaps this explains her dirt to dinner fascination.

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Mary Duff