Moroccan Preserved Lemons

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“Cutting the lemon
the knife
leaves a little cathedral:
alcoves unguessed by the eye
that open acidulous glass
to the light; topazes
riding the droplets,
aromatic facades.”

~Pablo Neruda

Yesterday when we got home from the pool we were in the mood for something with lemons. I had made a new batch of my Moroccan preserved lemons a couple weeks ago and decided to make lemon spaghetti with shrimp for dinner. So delicious.


Moroccan Preserved Lemons

12 Meyer lemons

Kosher salt

lemon juice concentrate

Wash the lemons thoroughly. Hold them over a plate to catch the juice and make four deep cuts in the lemons lengthwise, evenly spaced around the lemon, effectively dividing it into four sections attached at the ends. Keep the lemons whole.  Pack the cuts generously with salt. Put a couple of tablespoons of salt in the bottom of a jar and pack the lemons in layers, sprinkling a thin layer of salt between each layer of lemons. Push the lemons down firmly to pack them tightly and to help express some of their juice. Finish with a final layer of salt. Pour any juices that collected on the plate when the lemons were cut. Cover the jar tightly. Leave at room temperature for a few days, monitoring the level of liquid in the jar. The lemons should be submerged in juice after a few days. If they are not, add some lemon juice concentrate to the jar. Top off jar with a little extra virgin olive oil. Cover tightly with lid. The lemons will be ready to eat in a few weeks and will keep for up to a year in the refrigerator.

Leisa’s Lemon Spaghetti

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted

1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 cup chopped, Moroccan preserved lemons plus a little juice

1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped

1 pound fresh shrimp, cooked until just pink

3 cloves fresh garlic, minced and cooked in butter until golden

1 lb. spaghetti, cooked al dente

2 green onions, chopped

salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Cook spaghetti according to package directions. Drain.  Combine the rest of the ingredients and toss with pasta. Serve warm or chilled.



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  27 comments for “Moroccan Preserved Lemons

  1. July 5, 2010 at 10:49 am

    This lemon pasta was great. Grilling the shrimp really adds some flavor. I always wonder if stoking up the charcoal grill for a good half hour just to grill shrimp for two minutes per side will be worth it… It is. But I’m always looking for a reason to cook something outside with fire.

  2. July 5, 2010 at 10:58 am

    I was going to specify that the shrimp be grilled 🙂 It IS way better, but if you don’t have the time, cooking them up in a little butter and garlic is good too.

  3. Kimber Dunn
    October 5, 2010 at 9:30 pm

    OHHHHHH yummmmm!!! This one will be a must on my canning & recipe list!! What other ideas do you have for the lemons?

  4. admin
    October 5, 2010 at 11:29 pm

    You can literally use these in any recipe that calls for lemons or lemon zest. I have made lemon cakes and cookies, lemon chicken…and stuffed a chicken with these lemons. The olive oil-lemon juice “goop” surrounding the lemons is delicious in salad dressings and makes a fantastic marinade for grilled meats and veggies.

  5. December 26, 2011 at 9:38 pm

    I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this…preserved a bunch of citrus by this method this fall…love waiting for a nasty February sleet storm to crack open a jar of summer sunshine…the lemon pasta idea is brilliant!

    • Melissa
      December 26, 2011 at 10:02 pm

      I agree, Scott! Sunshine in a jar! thanks so much for stopping by! 🙂

  6. Shelly
    August 10, 2012 at 6:10 pm

    This is beautiful. I’ve never thought to preserve my own lemons – I have gone WAY out of my way to find them at stores… And I CAN everything! I’m with Kimber. Adding this to my list of preserved goodies for gifts this Christmas. I better get canning! Do you suppose I could process these for 10 minutes in a water bath to preserve them further? Hmmmm… Might soften them too much and take the pretty color out. I’ll experiment. Thanks for sharing!

    • Melissa
      August 11, 2012 at 9:21 pm

      enjoy shell 🙂

  7. Shelly
    August 10, 2012 at 6:12 pm

    Oh, and I LOVE Pablo Neruda… Makes me think of courtin’ with the Michael!

    • Melissa
      August 11, 2012 at 9:21 pm

      aw! sweet! 🙂

  8. Renate
    November 18, 2012 at 9:19 pm

    I was just wondering if the lemons come out realy salty, b/c so much salt is used. I make Moroccan Food and the recipe always calls for preserved lemons, but I can not find them here.
    Thanks, Renate

    • Melissa
      November 18, 2012 at 9:34 pm

      Hello Renate 🙂 I’ve made these several times and they’ve never come out salty. thanks so much for the question.

  9. Jackie
    January 8, 2013 at 8:14 pm

    I can’t wait to try both of these recipes. Thank you.

    • Melissa
      January 8, 2013 at 9:14 pm

      Hi Jackie! enjoy 🙂

  10. Terry
    April 15, 2013 at 11:15 pm

    This sounds delicious! Do the jars need to be sterilized?

    • Melissa
      April 16, 2013 at 12:37 am

      Hi Terry! I just wash the jars in the dishwasher and fill them while they’re still hot…always use a new lid. 🙂 Hope that helps!

  11. Cheryl
    April 27, 2013 at 1:34 am

    Hi Melissa,
    Thanks for sharing, I have always wondered how to make preserved lemons. I will give this a try very soon. One quick question. At the end after topping off with the olive oil, do you refrigerate at that point for 2 weeks, or still leave outside on the counter? After opening, then in the refrigerator? Thanks for any help you can give!!

    • Melissa
      April 27, 2013 at 8:38 am

      Hello Cheryl 🙂 I put it in the refrigerator right after I top it off. Thanks so much for visiting, and commenting. Enjoy the recipe!

  12. Bonner
    December 11, 2013 at 6:35 pm

    Can’t get Meyer lemons here often; can I use others?

    • Melissa
      December 11, 2013 at 7:13 pm

      You sure can, Bonner 🙂

  13. Laini
    January 20, 2014 at 6:02 am

    What happens if I use oranges?

    • Melissa
      January 20, 2014 at 2:09 pm

      Hi Laini 🙂 I’m not sure…I’ve never tried that. Let me know if you give it a go, and how that works for ya.

  14. Laini
    January 21, 2014 at 3:18 am

    Would it be safe like lemons would? I have oranges on my counter right now.

    • Melissa
      January 23, 2014 at 9:46 pm

      I’m not sure, Laini… you could maybe look up “preserving oranges” online? thanks again for stopping by.

  15. January 4, 2016 at 1:40 am

    After you preserve the lemons can you freeze them in the jars

    • Melissa
      January 4, 2016 at 12:41 pm

      Hi Evelyn! 🙂

      I’ve never tried freezing the preserved lemons, so I’m not sure. Sorry I couldn’t be more help. ~M

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