How to Preserve Fresh Lemons

What do you do when your lemon tree is full? Make preserved lemons! It's a tasty condiment that will last all year long.

Hey friends - I'm new to citrus growing, and I have a question for anyone out there who's a citrus expert.

Is it possible for limes to turn into lemons?

Or, a better way to phrase this question: Is there a citrus variety that produces both fruits depending on when you pick them? Cause I think that's what I have!

Here's the story. When I moved into my house, I ordered a lemon tree. The tree was planted, but it turned out to be more of a multi-branched shrub rather than a single trunk tree. Plus, it produced limes. Green ones, that taste great in guacamole and are super useful when making Margaritas. #SorryNotSorry about the lemons.

I usually pick my "limes" by the end of October. However, this year, I got busy (working on a big project that I'll share in a few months) and they sat on the tree until Christmas.

Which is when I noticed, as I went out to pick them for Margaritas, that they were bright yellow and looked very much like LEMONS! Shut the front door. Do I have a lemon tree after all?

If anyone can relate to this story, please let me know what's going on!

what to do with all those lemons

I've been making lemon recipes like crazy, and this preserved lemons recipe is the first one I'm throwing at you. Because when life gives you lemons, you've gotta find a way to keep them all year long.

Preserved lemons aren't what you probably think they are. They're not like a tart jam or lemon curd. Instead, the lemons are preserved in salt and spices, and you use them in cooking. They're kind of like a lemon pickle. Although I know that doesn't sound very appealing.

They're a very common ingredient in Moroccan and Middle Eastern cooking, but really, you can use them in any savory dish.

It takes a few weeks for the lemons to "pickle" but once they're done, they'll keep for months (or as long as they last). Just scoop one out, rinse off the salt, and add it to savory stews, salads, or homemade salad dressings for a pop of bright lemony flavor. The peel gets super soft, and you can eat the entire thing.

I often see warm sweet spices added to the brine mix along with salt - like a cinnamon stick, some whole cloves, or even star anise. Feel free to experiment if you make recipes that can benefit from some of those flavors. I keep mine on the neutral flavor side with just salt, black pepper and a bunch of coriander seeds because they too have a bright citrusy flavor. That way, they're more adaptable to different flavor profiles.


How to Make Preserved Lemons

Preserved Lemons

A lemony, savory condiment that lets you enjoy fresh lemons all year long
5 from 2 votes
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Course: condiments
Cuisine: Mediterranean
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 30
Calories: 10kcal


  • 9 lemons fresh, preferably organic
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon whole coriander seeds
  • ¼ cup pickling or sea salt


  • If the lemons are store-bought, clean them well. Trim off any pointy ends. Cut 5-6 of the lemons into quarters, lengthwise and remove any visible seeds.
  • Juice the remaining lemons and set the juice aside.
  • Put the bay leaf, peppercorns, and coriander seeds in the bottom of a 1-quart jar.
  • Gently open each lemon and sprinkle 1-2 teaspoons of salt over the lemon quarters.
  • Using a muddler, or wooden spoon, press the lemons down into the jar, so they release as much of their juice as possible.
  • Add the remaining juice from the juiced lemons until you have enough juice to cover the lemons in the jar.
  • Cover the jar and store the lemons in the refrigerator for at least 3 weeks. Turn the jar upside down every few days so the salt and spices infuse the lemons evenly.
  • To use, remove a lemon segment and rinse it under cold water. Slice and add to stews, marinades, salads, or dressings.


To use the preserved lemons, remove about ¼ of a lemon from the jar. Rinse it under cold water to remove excess salt. Mince the lemon (or just the rind) and add it to your recipe.
Because these are salty, you may need to reduce the salt in your recipe.
Note: the sodium count on the nutrition facts is very high but it accounts for all of the salt in this recipe. Much of it stays in the jar or is rinsed away. 


Calories: 10kcal | Carbohydrates: 3g | Protein: 0.4g | Fat: 0.1g | Saturated Fat: 0.02g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.03g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.01g | Sodium: 944mg | Potassium: 48mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 8IU | Vitamin C: 17mg | Calcium: 10mg | Iron: 0.2mg
Did you make this recipe?Tag me @CravingSomethingHealthy!

What's your thought on my Lime/Lemon tree? If you know anyone who might know, please pass this post along - curious minds want to know!

Eat well!

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