Morocco

Classic Moroccan Preserved Lemons

December 23, 2016

Moroccan Preserved Lemons is something everybody should try at least once in a lifetime. Many call this condiment the greatest Morocco’s contribution to the food world. Salt preserved lemons can be used in an array of Moroccan dishes as well as in your everyday meals!

Moroccan Preserved Lemons are a must in every kitchen pantry. They require only 2 ingredients to make and can be used in an array of dishes! | cookingtheglobe.com

Hey, guys! You are all probably getting ready for the holidays while I am writing this thing. I thought I was done posting until after Christmas but something interesting popped up and I wanted to share it with you! So yesterday I was looking for some homemade food gifts (I know I know, I’m late as always) and one of the ideas was to make Moroccan Preserved Lemons (l’hamd marakad in Moroccan). They look really nice all packed up in a jar! A wonderful Christmas gift, really.

Moroccan Preserved Lemons are a must in every kitchen pantry. They require only 2 ingredients to make and can be used in an array of dishes! | cookingtheglobe.com

The problem is, I have neither made nor tried them before even though they’ve caught my ears a few times. After a little bit of reading, my illusions of successfully “preserving” lemons overnight and gifting to my friends were shattered like a toy falling off a Christmas tree (don’t even ask why this exact association came to my mind… A 1-year old kid, anyone?). My plans were not meant to happen because the lemons have to sit for a month before using them. Oops. Of course, I could just screw a lid and hand the jars over to my friends telling them to wait for some time before trying but it would be a really wrong thing to do keeping in mind that I didn’t even taste the mixture, ha!

I am not the one who gives up quickly, though. I mean, it’s obviously impossible to get these Moroccan preserved lemons ready before Christmas but I decided to make them for myself at least. They sound really interesting and, given their popularity not only in Morocco but in some other North African countries, these pickled lemons would eventually end up on my list of things-to-make sooner or later. In fact, some say that preserved lemons are the greatest Morocco’s contribution to the world. You can’t just pass on them after such words!

Moroccan Preserved Lemons are a must in every kitchen pantry. They require only 2 ingredients to make and can be used in an array of dishes! | cookingtheglobe.com

Alright, so what are these Moroccan preserved lemons all about? In short, it’s basically just salted lemons kept on your kitchen counter for a month. Initially, the idea to preserve lemons in salt was born as a way to keep them last longer but in Morocco, this necessity transformed into something beautiful, something that had an enormous effect to the cuisine of this country.

Moroccan Preserved Lemons are a must in every kitchen pantry. They require only 2 ingredients to make and can be used in an array of dishes! | cookingtheglobe.com

The recipe for this condiment is really simple. It can’t be even more simple, actually. Salt + lemons. That’s everything you need. Half of the lemons are stuffed with salt while the other half are needed for the juice that submerges the salted lemons. They really took like 5 minutes of my time to make (without taking photos, of course). Easy peasy! The interesting thing is that you won’t be using the juice and the pulp, only the rind (it’s not prohibited to use a pulp too but it may be very salty).

How to use preserved lemons?

The variety of ways to use Moroccan preserved lemons is so vast you won’t believe it unless you already know the fact that Moroccans don’t even think of fresh lemons as the ingredient for dishes! That’s right. If they want a lemony flavor in their food, they use preserved lemons. It means that in order to properly explore the cuisine of this African country, you need em. You can buy preserved lemons if they are available in your town (I didn’t find them) but I don’t know if it’s worth it because they will be surely expensive outside of Morocco + they are so easy to make! Keep your money for something more important.

Moroccan Preserved Lemons are a must in every kitchen pantry. They require only 2 ingredients to make and can be used in an array of dishes! | cookingtheglobe.com

Moroccans use preserved lemons in their meat and vegetable tagines, sauces, salads, everywhere! But the good news is – the dish doesn’t even have to be Moroccan for you to use them. This goodness can also be added to pasta, roasted potatoes, sauces, roasted meats, or anywhere you can think of. The possibilities are endless. When my lemons will be ready, I am surely adding some Moroccan dishes featuring them to the blog and I’m also thinking about throwing together a round-up with the world recipes using preserved lemons. Follow the blog or subscribe to my newsletter to stay tuned!

Moroccan Preserved Lemons are a must in every kitchen pantry. They require only 2 ingredients to make and can be used in an array of dishes! | cookingtheglobe.com

I don’t know what the taste will be like, guys. Salty + tangy, I guess (mister obvious here). My hopes are really high for this one! It’s the very first time on this blog when I am sharing a recipe that is not tested yet. However, the source is more than reputable – a Michelin star chef Mourad Lahlou, who specializes in Moroccan cuisine.

What I do know, is that I will update this post when my lemons are ready (somewhere after a month) and tell you my thoughts on them. If my taste buds will reject them (I hope not), there is an option to reduce the amount of salt and add some sugar together. Some aromatics such as cinnamon, chiles, rosemary, or others can be also thrown into the jar.

Alright, guys, see you in a month!

February 8th, 2017 update. I am a little bit late with the update but I was busy savoring these little guys, sorry! I have even made a dish using them already – check out this beautiful Moroccan Chicken Tagine. So what’s the verdict? Are these preserved lemons a pleasant discovery or a great disappointment? The answer is… They are freaking awesome! Here is a pic of how they look now.

Moroccan Preserved Lemons are a must in every kitchen pantry. They require only 2 ingredients to make and can be used in an array of dishes! | cookingtheglobe.com

These are so much more than simple lemons. How to describe the flavor? That’s an interesting question. Preserved lemons have an intense, powerful lemon-y flavor but the process of salting mellows out their tartness! Plus, the rind, which you should be using, looses any bitterness. Of course they are salty too (obviously) but it’s not too overwhelming.

I tried my best explaining the flavor of this Moroccan condiment but you’ll have to try them yourself to understand it better!

A little reminder before using preserved lemons:

  • As I already said, only rind / peel is usually used. Feel free to use flesh if you want to (it’s typically really salty).
  • You can use preserved lemons in salads, salad dressings, sauces, salsas, dips, pastas, stews.
  • Storing. The book I made these from says that you can store preserved lemons for a half a year at room temperature once you’ve opened a jar (I keep mine in the fridge, though), then it’s recommended to drain them and remove the pulp and pith. The rinds, completely covered with olive oil, can be stored for up to a year in the fridge.

Moroccan Preserved Lemons are a must in every kitchen pantry. They require only 2 ingredients to make and can be used in an array of dishes! | cookingtheglobe.com

5 from 8 votes
Moroccan Preserved Lemons are a must in every kitchen pantry. They require only 2 ingredients to make and can be used in an array of dishes! | cookingtheglobe.com
Print
Classic Moroccan Preserved Lemons
Prep Time
10 mins
Total Time
10 mins
 
Moroccan Preserved Lemons are a cornerstone of Moroccan cuisine. They are used in an array of Moroccan dishes but can also be added to our everyday dishes!
Cuisine: Moroccan
Servings: 1 quart (litre) jar
Calories Per Serving: 367 kcal
Author: CookingTheGlobe
Ingredients
  • 6 lemons (about 5 oz. or 140g. each) + 6 more for juicing
  • 3/4 cup (110g) kosher salt
  • 1 quart (litre) jar
Instructions
  1. Scrub six lemons with a vegetable brush and rinse in cold water. Dry well. Trim the nubs off both ends. Quarter each lemon lengthwise leaving them still connected at a base.
  2. Put the salt into a bowl. Working with one at a time, hold the lemon over the bowl and fill it generously with salt. Every lemon should get about 2 tablespoons of salt. Put them cut side up in the jar. You should push down really hard to fit them in.
  3. Juice the remaining 6 lemons and add the juice into the jar until the lemons are submerged. If it's not enough juice, you can either juice more lemons to fill the jar to the brim or use boiled water.
  4. Seal the jar and store in a dark place (not in a fridge) for a month, turning and shaking it once a day for the first week (to redistribute the salt).
  5. After a month, rinse the lemons, remove the pulp and use the rind for your dishes. You can also use the pulp if you want to but usually only the rind is used. Enjoy!

Recipe Notes

Adapted from Mourad: New Moroccan by Mourad Lahlou

 

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24 Comments

  • Reply Lisa | Garlic + Zest December 24, 2016 at 2:05 pm

    That would have been a wonderful idea to gift for the holidays… Next year. I’ve never used preserved lemons, but you’ve piqued my curiosity. I want to give it a whirl. If it works out – that’s what everyone will receive NEXT Christmas.

    • Reply Igor January 1, 2017 at 7:53 pm

      You have voiced my thoughts, Lisa! If these lemons turn out great, I already know the presents for the next Christmas πŸ˜‰

  • Reply Alyssa December 24, 2016 at 2:19 pm

    This reminds me of cured egg yolks for some reason. Similar technique and then they’re shaved over the top of food to give a savory flavor!

    • Reply Igor January 1, 2017 at 7:53 pm

      I have never tried such egg yolks, Alyssa. But they sound intriguing!

  • Reply Marsha | Marsha's Baking Addiction December 24, 2016 at 3:36 pm

    Oh, such a great idea! Gorgeous photos, too!

    • Reply Igor January 1, 2017 at 7:54 pm

      Thank you, Marsha!

  • Reply Holly December 24, 2016 at 6:05 pm

    Hi Igor! I love this preserved lemon recipe! First of all, lemon is my favorite flavor ever!! And I’m really into sweets so much so the use of salt has my attention. I’m excited to try it and to hear how yours turn out!

    • Reply Igor January 1, 2017 at 7:57 pm

      I can’t wait for the outcome myself, Holly πŸ™‚

  • Reply Platter Talk December 24, 2016 at 6:07 pm

    I have never used preserved lemons but have made them- go figure. The are beautiful in a glass jar- very pretty.

    • Reply Igor January 1, 2017 at 8:02 pm

      I am glad you liked them πŸ™‚

  • Reply Sam | Ahead of Thyme December 26, 2016 at 8:46 pm

    I have never used or made preserved lemons, what a great idea!! Such a great gift idea too!

    • Reply Igor January 10, 2017 at 9:04 pm

      Now you know! πŸ™‚

  • Reply J @ Bless Her Heart Y'all December 27, 2016 at 12:20 am

    These lemons sound so light and refreshing and delicious. I’m going to have to try this recipe out!

    • Reply Igor January 10, 2017 at 9:06 pm

      Lemons are one of my most favorite ingredients hands down πŸ˜‰

  • Reply Tiffany December 27, 2016 at 2:15 am

    I LOVE preserved lemons! Thank you for sharing this!

    • Reply Igor January 10, 2017 at 9:10 pm

      Thanks for the comment, Tiffany!

  • Reply Jolina December 27, 2016 at 3:27 am

    I am so intrigued by this! I am a huge lemon fan and I wonder if I can use preserved lemons in my baking? Hmmm. I can’t wait to see how they turn out. I imagine they would be more appropriate for savoury dishes but who knows?? I guess we’ll find out πŸ™‚ So interesting!

    • Reply Igor January 10, 2017 at 9:24 pm

      I am not sure about baking, Jolina πŸ™‚ These are more for savory dishes, I guess πŸ˜‰

  • Reply Stephanie Manley January 2, 2017 at 6:05 pm

    Thank you for posting this. I often buy Lemons at Costco and they go bad before I can finish them. I appreciate your recipe. I will try this next time I buy lemons there.

    • Reply Igor January 10, 2017 at 9:30 pm

      I am glad you liked the recipe, Stephanie!

  • Reply clg January 3, 2017 at 2:34 am

    As we’re using these preserved lemons, do we need to remove them ALL from the jar, take off the pulp, etc… when we go to use some of it, or can the unusued portion continue to sit in the jar with the juice/salt? If we can’t keep them in the jar, what’s the best way to store the unused portion? Thank you

    • Reply Igor January 10, 2017 at 9:32 pm

      Just take the amount you need at the moment and leave the remaining lemons sitting in the jar πŸ™‚

  • Reply Julie February 6, 2017 at 2:26 am

    I can’t wait to try this and share it with my mother in law. She has a lemon tree and sometimes it’s a struggle to use them all!

    • Reply Igor February 6, 2017 at 10:33 pm

      She will love them, Julie! Oh I wish our climate would be suitable for growing lemon trees πŸ™‚

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