Morrocan Preserved Lemons

Morrocan preserved lemons in a kilner jar.

I used to get very excited, coming home with preserved lemons from our local French market, but I was always bitterly disappointed. So when I moved to Greece, preserving lemons was high on the priority list (that and the Indian Lemon Pickle!)

Homemade preserved lemons bear no relationship to those bought in the shop or the market. Making your own is easy; once you have your jar, you will find yourself chopping and adding them to everything.

Transform Everything from Soups to Fish

Wash the lemons (to remove the brine) and chop the rind raw into salads and dressings. Their intense lemony flavour transforms anything from soups, stews, beans, fish and pasta. A great addition to Pasta al Limone (lemon water pasta). Chop a little pulp into the cooking water halfway through.

Chicken with preserved lemons and olives is so easy and so delicious. And, of course, if you are preparing a tagine. They are an absolute must.

Moroccans use the Doqq, Meyer and Boussera varieties. Our Greek lemons have slightly thicker skin, so it takes a little longer to soften, but the result is fabulous. The crucial thing is organic lemons and, ideally, as fresh as possible.

Lemons, Salt, Kilner Jar and a Little Time

You only need kosher or sea salt, lemons, a sterilised jar and a little patience. You can add spices, bay leaves and extra lemon juice, but not water or oil. Combinations could include cardamom, cinnamon and bay leaves, white/black peppercorns and bay leaves, star anise or coriander, or nothing! Keep everything very clean, and once they are ready, remove them with clean utensils to prevent bacteria contamination. I keep mine in the fridge, but many recipes say this is unnecessary. They should keep for up to a year and are ready in about four weeks.

Many thanks to Christine Benlafquih, Taste of Maroc and Paula Wolfert’s classic book, first published in 1973, Couscous and Other Good Food from Morrocco, for their expertise and guidance on preserved lemons.

More ideas for preserving herešŸ‹šŸ‹

Morrocan Preserved Lemons

Preserving lemons is easy. All you need is salt, fresh lemons, a sterilised jar and spices. The intense lemony flavour transforms anything from soups and stews to salads and fish.
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Course: condiment, pickles
Cuisine: Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, Morrocan
Keyword: lemons, preserving
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Author: The Wild Epicurean


  • 1 Sterlised 500ml (or larger) Kilner Jar


  • 5-6 organic lemons (see notes for varities) (approx for 500ml jar but very much depends on the size of your lemons!)
  • 1 lemon juiced to top up the jar
  • kosher or sea salt
  • spices and or bay leaves see notes for suggested cominations


  • Cover the bottom of the sterilsed jar with salt. Two to three teaspoons.
  • Quarter the lemons but not fully so they are joined at the base of the fruit. If you cut through its no big deal. It is simply easier to salt them this way.
  • Fill the quarters with salt and squeeze closed. Push down into the jar. Add enough lemons so the jar is full and close.
  • Leave for three days and you should be able to squeeze in one or two more lemons, leaving enough gap to cover with juice (if the existing juice is not enough). Sprinkle with a teaspoons of salt and add lemon juice to cover.
  • Leave in a cool dark place and shake every three or four days. Lemons are ready to use after four weeks.
  • The lemons keep for up to a year. Rinse thoroually before using. Many recipes state you don't need to fridgerate but I prefer to.


Moroccans use the Doqq, Meyer and Boussera lemon varieties; the classic Mediterranean lemons have slightly thicker skin. I used local Greek lemons, and they worked perfectly. Ready to eat after 4 weeks. The longer you leave them, the better they get. Be meticulous about retrieving the lemons so as not to contaminate the jar.
You can add spices, bay leaves and extra lemon juice but not water or oil.
Combinations could include cardamom, cinnamon and bay leaves, white/black peppercorns and bay leaves, star anise and cinnamon or coriander.Ā 

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