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Salt-Preserved Lemons

 Salt and lemons 

Here in western Canada, Meyer lemons weren’t easy to come by until fairly recently.  Ever since I had my first taste of one a couple of years ago, I’ve been hooked – and I look forward to the “citrus season” so I can buy up as many bags as I can.  This, of course, means I’m practically overdosing on them by the middle of February…I’ve frozen them, cooked with them, made lemon jelly,  baked every kind of lemon treat you can imagine, and juiced them into lemonade and green tea (in the dead of winter, there’s something about a fresh glass of sunshine – it’s even better than during the summer!).  Still, I keep buying them as long as I can…and time is running out now.  Very soon I won’t be able to get them again until November. 

Fortunately, besides freezing (which I will post about soon), there is another way to preserve lemons for the long term – by using salt.  The recipe is simple, although the preserves themselves require a bit of subsequent babysitting.  I’m planning to use my lemons alongside baked fish and in spinach and mixed green salads.    

Salt-Preserved Lemons 

3 small organic Meyer lemons, washed, stem ends trimmed, sliced into thin wedges  

¼ to ½ cup coarse salt (use Kosher if you have it) 

Line the bottom of a clean 1 pint glass canning jar with 3 tablespoons of salt.  Snugly pack in a layer of lemon slices, then add another 3 tablespoons of salt.  Keep adding layers of lemon slices and salt until you have reached the top of the jar.  The top layer should be of salt.  Tightly close the lid of the jar and place it in a cool, dark place (mine is in a closet).  It is a good idea to make a note of the date you started your preserves as well as a reminder of the projected end date (3 weeks later) and tape it onto the outside of the jar.  Once a day, you must shake the jar to combine the salt and lemon slices.   

Twice a week, ensure you open the lid of the jar for a few minutes to let the contents “breathe.”  After 3 weeks have passed, the jar must go into the fridge, where it will keep until the next citrus season!  (You’ll eat them long before that, I’m sure!).  Before serving the lemons, remember to rinse them in water to get rid of excess salt, and remove the seeds if you haven’t already done so.  

What is your favourite way to use up lemons? 

(Recipe adapted from 

1/20/2016 10:01:26 PM

This is a great idea and very timely since I have TONS of Meyer lemons right now! I'll give it a try. One question though - are the lemons very salty after rinsing? Do they lose their sweet taste? I look forward to your post on freezing them as well - last year I squeezed many and froze the juice in silicone jumbo muffin tins (then popped out when frozen and stored in bags).

sheryl normandeau
3/1/2013 7:47:40 PM

Oh, that would be great if your grandson would continue to enjoy foods like broccoli, raw veggies, and lemons - so healthy! Most kids are into the sweet stuff like cookies and candy, so it's such a good thing if they enjoy good food at such a young age. I suppose no one in Nebraska really has a need to preserve lemons if you can get them year-'round - but perhaps if you have too many! Have a great weekend, Nebraska Dave!

sheryl normandeau
3/1/2013 7:43:40 PM

It's an easy way to save them for the future and, as you say, they don't take up freezer space. Plus, you can be very creative with their use in cooking! I hope you get a chance to try it! Thanks so much for your comment!

nebraska dave
2/27/2013 11:42:10 PM

Sheryl, I didn't you could preserve lemons with salt. We can get lemons pretty much year round here in Nebraska. My grandson would say the best way to eat a lemon is just peel it and eat. Yes, he eats them just like eating an orange. He like oranges too. His eating habits are not like other kids. Broccoli is high on the list of likes as well as all fruits. Raw vegetables are the best like carrots and peas are another favorite. I just hope he will keep those eating habits through out his life. Have a great lemon enjoying day.

chuck mallory
2/19/2013 5:53:52 PM

What great info! As much as I know about cooking, I never knew you could preserve lemons. I can easily get Meyer lemons when they're in season, but that's only one time of the year, it seems. I'm cautious about doing too much "freezing" because that uses energy. I like this idea, though, and will try it.