Joan Nathan’s Preserved Lemons Recipe

A Jewish recipe from Joan Nathan's newest cookbook. "Preserved lemons are an indispensable item in my pantry cupboard. I use them all the time and believe they are best made at home. Although I have tasted lemons preserved in water or an equal mix of lemon juice and water, I much prefer them preserved in pure lemon juice. Many people scrape out and discard the pulp when using the lemons, but I often include the preserved pulp. I blend a preserved lemon in with my hummus, sprinkle the rind on grilled fish, and stuff my chicken with a whole lemon, and I dice preserved lemons and mix them into salads, rice dishes, and vegetables. In addition to regular lemons, you can also use Meyer lemons or even kumquats."


8 lemons (about 1-1/2 lb.)
About 1/2 cup kosher salt
1 cup fresh lemon juice, plus more if necessary
2 tbsp olive oil


Step 1: Cut off the very ends of each lemon. Cut each one lengthwise into quarters, cutting to but not through the opposite end. Sprinkle 2 tbsp of salt into the cut sides of each lemon. Put the lemons in a large jar (it’s fine if you have to squeeze them in, because they will shrink), and cover completely with lemon juice. Let sit for a day.

Step 2: The next day, if they are not covered with lemon juice, pour a thin film of olive oil over the lemons. This will help keep them sealed while they preserve. Put the jar in the refrigerator and allow to cure for 2-3 weeks. Before using, scrape off the pulp if desired.

Note: You can shorten the curing period by about 2 weeks by freezing the lemons for a few days after cutting them. Defrost and cure as above in salt and lemon.

Makes 8 lemons

Reprinted with permission from Joan Nathan’s Quiches, Kugels & Couscous (2010 Knopf).