Preserving Lemons

Preserving lemons is one of the smallholder’s joys in winter, particularly if you have a lemon tree.

There are many things that one can do to use lemons while they are fresh, but also to preserve them in order to have them out of season.

Moroccans preserve their lemons in salt and lemon juice for thirty days before using them in their cooking. Israelis preserve them in salt, rosemary, chili, lemon juice and olive oil.

Other people freeze lemons: place the whole fruits in a freezer bag and stash them in the freezer. When you need fresh lemon juice, simply defrost the frozen lemons in the microwave for a few seconds or submerge in cold water for about 15 minutes.

You can of course make lemonade, puddings, cakes and tarts. Lemon marmalade and lemon curd are old fashioned favourites. SA Smallholder described how to make lemon jelly last month. Read all about it here.

Ramola Pharboo’s recipe for pickled lemons is easy and results in really a delicious pickle.


Ingredients: 20 small lemons, 30 ml salt, 625 ml cooking oil, 6 halved cloves garlic, 40 g fresh ginger peeled & sliced, 20 curry leaves, 20 ml chilli powder, 15 ml turmeric, 30 ml crushed cumin seeds,750 ml white vinegar,4 green chillies, 80 ml sugar, 30 ml mustard powder.

Preserving lemons
Lemons pickled in a large jar with a tight lid.

Wash and quarter lemons. Sprinkle with salt and leave aside for 4 days.

Heat oil in a deep saucepan. Add garlic, ginger and curry leaves, then remaining spices. Stir in vinegar and add drained lemons. Simmer for 30 minutes.

Cool, bottle and leave to stand for 4 weeks.

(Indian Cookery for South Africa, pub Don Nelson, Cape Town, 1985.)

Lemon pickle is served with curry, but you can also add it to cold meat, fish or even sandwiches.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.