Skip to content

Ottolenghi’s Preserved Lemons

January 30, 2011

This recipe is a lesson in patience, but the longer you wait, the better they taste. Keep it simple. Try them with roast chicken, a simple arugula salad, or a tangy slab of fresh feta pulled straight from the brine bath.

Ottolenghi’s Preserved Lemons

Adapted from Ottolenghi-The Cookbook.


6 lemons, scrubbed
6 T coarse sea salt
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
2-4 dried red chilies
juice of 6 lemons
olive oil


  1. Sterilize a quart jar.
  2. Cut a deep cross in the lemons all the way from the top to 3/4” from the bottom, so you are left with four quarters attached.
  3. Stuff each lemon with a tablespoonful of salt and place in the jar. It should be a tight fit. Don’t be afraid to squeeze them.
  4. Seal the jar and leave for a week on the counter.
  5. Carefully remove the lid. Using a wooden spoon or muddler press the lemons as hard as you can to squeeze as much of the juice out as possible.
  6. Add the rosemary, chilies and lemon juice. (I used Thai Bird’s Eye chilies.)
  7. Cover with a thin layer of olive oil.
  8. Seal the jar. Leave in a cool place for at least four weeks.
  9. Try it all again with limes!


7 Comments leave one →
  1. dave permalink
    December 23, 2012 5:14 pm

    My lemons went moldy after the first week. Looked up on another recipe and it mentions covering the lemons completely with lemon juice, if not enough lemon juice than cover with water. made three full tubs and they’re all wasted.. not a happy chappy. 😦

    • December 24, 2012 7:48 am

      Dave, I’m sorry the lemons didn’t turn out for you. We make them several times a year, and haven’t encountered the mold problem. Did you cover them with the oil after you muddled them? Or did they start to mold in the first week before you added the oil?

  2. January 6, 2013 8:43 am

    I followed the recipe and the lemons are looking good!

    I’m just waiting impatiently for the weeks to pass so we can start enjoying them.

  3. Andrew permalink
    July 21, 2013 3:06 am

    My lemons went mouldy at the end of the first week before I could squeeze out the juice and cover them. I followed the recipe exactly, so not sure what has gone wrong.

  4. JIWA permalink
    January 25, 2016 12:39 pm

    I am working on this recipe. I have a comment about the mold. Maybe the jar was contaminated. I always do a boiling water bath, even if it is just one jar and lid an a pot of water big enough to cover the jar. make sure everything is sterile. then be scrupulously clean with all the rest of your equipment. Can’t wait, either! I’ve been looking at this one for several years (preserved lemons, anyway). Came across some lovely Meyer lemons last week, so it is time. Thank you so much for sharing.

  5. April 5, 2016 6:56 pm

    the lemons should be totally covered in their own juice, or the juice of other lemons (they mention juice and the lemons themselves separately in the ingredients) – if not they will mold! but this recipe is poorly written which is why your versions failed. If you google preserved lemon recipes, all other recipes mention this VERY important point!
    hope that helps anyone who sees this!


  1. Cannellini estivi – The green pantry

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: