Moroccan Preserved Lemon

Every household in Morocco has a continuous supply of preserved lemon. Some make their own and others buy it from the market as it is readily available. Here, we show you how to make your own.

Moroccan Preserved Lemon 5-6 Lemons 
1 Lbs. Salt, more if desired 
1 Cinnamon stick  
1/4 Cup Bay leaves 
1/4 Cup of vegetable oil
Spring water 

Quarter the lemons from the top to within 1/2 inch of the bottom. Gently spread them without breaking the bottom and pack them with salt , preferably sea salt, and then reshape the fruit.

Place 1 tablespoon salt on the bottom of a sterilized one pint mason jar.

Pack in the lemons and push them down, adding more salt and the optional other spices, between layers. Press the lemons down to release their juices and to make room for the remaining lemons. Cover the lemons with spring water and leave enough space for the oil.

Pour the vegetable oil and seal the jar. The vegetable oil has no effect on the actual flavoring except that it works as a seal and protects the lemons from air contact during the preservation time.

Let the lemons ripen in a cool dry and dark area for at least 30 days before reopening.

Depending on your recipe, you may or may not rinse the lemons before use. 

Preserved lemons, sold loose in the markets (Souks) of Morocco, are one of the most indispensable ingredients of Moroccan cooking, used in fragrant lamb and vegetables Tagines, recipes for chicken with lemons and olives, and salads. Their unique pickled taste and special silken texture cannot be duplicated with fresh lemon or lime juice.

Sometimes you will see a sort of lacy, white substance clinging to preserved lemons in their jar; it is perfectly harmless, but should be rinsed off for aesthetic reasons just before the lemons are used.

Cook with both pulps and rinds, if desired

There is no need to refrigerate after opening. Preserved lemons will keep up to a year, and the pickling juice can be used two or three times over the course of a year. 


2 Responses to “Moroccan Preserved Lemon”

  1. Lyn Farmer Says:

    I’ve been making preserved lemons from a similar recipe for several years. I find that the best lemons to use are Meyer lemons because of the natural flavor and because there is almost no bitter white pith beneath the smooth skin.

    • itagine Says:

      Thank you Lyn. Myer lemons are definitely more flavorful and have a distinct strong lemon nose.

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