Limes, Lemons And Salt

Preserving lemons limes IMG_1662

The very first time I ever had preserved lemons was when Virginia Ripley came over with some and suggested that we add it to my arugula salad. She chopped up the skin and away we went. It was so good! That was some years ago and since then I’ve been mesmerized by the stuff, curious, and always looking for ways to incorporate it into my cooking. And then there came the book Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi. They have a few recipes that call for preserved lemon and of course, a recipe for preserving lemons.

When we were up in Watsonville this past month with our old friends Disa Fink and Niels Thomsen ( at Mariquita Farm with Julia Wiley (, Julie pulled out a jar of preserved LIMES which I put into our arugula salad at her suggestion. Wow. So great. I wish I could take credit both for thinking of preserving limes and for thinking of putting preserved lime into my salad – but I can’t. I’m not that clever….. But guess what…. We have lime trees right here on Marco Place and guess what else…. there are zillions of limes on these trees thanks to my wonderful husband’s good tree care practices!

So with the inspiration of Jerusalem, and Mariquita Farms preserved limes (from a friend of theirs), off I went into citrus preservation mode.

My first batch was lemons from our little lemon tree over by Ed’s side of the house. These are meyer lemons, mild and lovely. I didn’t have a huge jar but big enough.  I got one batch of preserved lemons going and I added in pink peppercorns, bay leaves, and a few lemon leaves for some flair. Then, I got Sue Kaplan (mayor of the Walkstreets) to order some half-gallon jars and as soon as they arrived she and I sterilized the jars and got to work. Here’s our recipe:

Preserved Lemons (same for limes)

(adapted from Simply Recipes and from Yotam Ottolenghi, Jerusalem)
I have preserved both lemons and limes but I have not mixed them in the same jar. Since the limes turn yellow as they soften it is hard to tell them apart from the lemons so I’m not sure that mixing them in the same jar is a great idea. But up to you! Let me know what you think.

½ Gallon jars with sealable lids, sterilized
lemons (Meyer or otherwise) or limes
Kosher salt or sea salt, lots
Extra fresh-squeezed lemon juice or lime juice if using limes.

Place 2 Tbsp of salt in the bottom of the sterilized jar.
Prepare the fruit by cutting off the stems and cut ¼ inch off the tip (or don’t – I leave my tips on).

More limes IMG_3781Cut limes

Cut the fruit almost in half but leave it attached at the bottom and then cut it the other way, again almost all the way to the bottom. In other words, the lemon is quartered but attached at the base.

IMG_3785Salting the fruit IMG_3784

Open the lemons/limes and sprinkle them all over with salt on the insides and the outsides.

Preparing the fruit IMG_1640

Pack the lemons/limes into the jar, very, very, tightly so that the fruit is squished and all packed together. The juice should be running out of the fruit. Fill the jar with fruit (again, pack tightly into the jar). Add more juice so that all of the fruit is covered with juice. Top with a couple tablespoons of salt.

Lemons in jar IMG_1641

I have also added some lemon leaves and pink peppercorns and bay leaves to the preserving lemons. I’m not sure that sounds so good to me for the limes but go wild – do what seems good to you.

Close the jar and let sit at room temperature for a couple of days. Turn the jar upside down occasionally. Each day, open the jar and add more fruit (the fruit will be softening and so there will be more room for additional lemons/limes). On the second day, put the jars into the refrigerator, turning them upside down occasionally, for at least 3 weeks, until the rind of the fruit softens.

To use, remove a lemon/lime from the jar and rinse thoroughly in water to remove the salt. Discard seeds before using. Discard the pulp before using or else use it too!

This can be stored in the refrigerator for 6 months. When they’re finished, I am going to put mine into some smaller jars and give them as gifts. They’re beautiful and delicious!

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Categories: Moroccan, Preserves, Vegan, Vegetarian

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