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Preserved lemons in a jar with a cutting board and diced preserved lemons.

Preserved Lemons (Lacto-Fermented Lemons)

Preserved lemons are a trade secret of many high-end chefs. Learn how to make this secret ingredient at home so you can incorporate it into your recipes as well.
4.74 from 19 votes
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Course: Condiment
Cuisine: French
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Fermentation Time: 30 days
Total Time: 30 days 15 minutes
Servings: 400 lemon wedges
Calories: 1kcal
Author: Carolyn Thomas


  • Quart-Sized Mason Jar
  • Two-Part Canning Lid
  • Sauerkraut Pounder (optional)


  • 6-10 lemons organic
  • lemon juice if needed
  • spices optional
  • 5 tsp sea salt


  • Scrub lemons in hot water, and remove any remaining stems. Do not use soap or produce washes, scrubbing in hot water is sufficient.
  • Place spices in the bottom of the jar.
  • Placing the stem side down (this is the flatter end, the blossom end is the pointy end of the lemon), score your lemons in quarters. Do not worry if you cut your lemon all the way through. This does not affect the fermentation process, the scoring is simply for aesthetic appeal.
  • Open the lemon, and sprinkle a generous amount of salt onto the flesh. If the seeds begin to fall out, simply remove them. You don’t need to make a big fuss about removing all the seeds, but you can remove them if you like. 
  • Place lemon in the jar with the cut side of the lemon facing upwards. 
  • Repeat the scoring and salting of the remaining lemons stacking on top of one another. Use a sauerkraut pounder or wooden spoon to pack as tightly as possible. Packing the jar tightly helps to further extract the juice from the lemons which will facilitate the fermentation process. As the jar becomes full, you will notice that it should also be filling up with lemon juice.
  • Once the lemons are packed to the brim of the jar, pour in any remaining salt, and if the lemons are not completely submerged in juice, top off the jar with the additional lemon juice.
  • Cover the jar with a two-part canning lid, and let sit on the countertop for about 4-5 days.
  • During this time, alternate turning the jar upside down for 12 hours, and then right side up for 12 hours. This will ensure that the lemons are equally covered by the brine to prevent molding. 
  • After this time, the jar is ready to go into cold storage for up to a year. This can be in a root cellar, a cool pantry that is at least 55 degrees or below, or a refrigerator. While in cold storage, continue to flip the jar when you think about it (or once every 3-5 days) to prevent molding. Allow the lemons to marinate for about a month to completely develop their flavor before using. 



  • Lemons can be used after the initial 4-5 days, however, the flavor won't be fully developed nor the flesh softened up for 30 days. For best results wait until this time to use them.
  • You can store preserved lemons in the refrigerator, root cellar, or cold pantry for up to 1 year.


Calories: 1kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 29mg | Potassium: 2mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 1IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 1mg | Iron: 1mg
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