preserved lemons

How to Make Preserved Lemons: Two Ways

by Anne Maxfield on June 2, 2016

Accidental Locavore Preserved Lemons Two Ways“If life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” If you’ve looked at the June issue of Food & Wine you might think the new saying should be, “If life gives you lemons, preserve them.”

So if life dropped hundreds of lemons into your yard, what would you make? Once when the Accidental Locavore was out in Palm Springs, a huge branch, full of lemons, from the backyard tree landed on the patio. We picked two big shopping bags of lemons before the branch got cut down, but what to do with them?

Accidental Locavore Lemons in a BagI tossed a few in my carry-on and brought them home, originally thinking of making lemon curd. After meeting Paula Wolfort and reading The Food of Morocco, I decided to go the full-on preserved lemon route. It’s super-simple, you just need to have time to let them develop.


  • 5 lemons, scrubbed and dried
  • 1/3 cup kosher salt
  • ½ cup lemon juice

Soften the lemons by rolling them back and forth. Quarter them from the tops to within ¼” of their bottoms. Sprinkle salt on the exposed flesh and reshape the lemons. Pack them into a glass jar, pushing them down and adding more salt between the layers. Top off with the lemon juice, but leave some air space before sealing the jar.

Accidental Locavore Two Jars of Preserved LemonsKeep the lemons in a warm place for 30 days, occasionally turning the jar upside down to redistribute the lemon juice and salt. If necessary, add more lemon juice to keep the lemons covered. They’ll keep for a year in the refrigerator. Rinse before using, serve and enjoy!

I always have a jar of the traditional ones in my fridge and since they were running low, I bought a bunch of regular lemons, ready to go for the 30 days until the roasted (2.0) recipe crossed my path. Since I had a batch of apricots dehydrating in the oven, tossing the lemons in only made sense.


  • 3 lemons, scrubbed and dried
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • ½ cup fresh lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 200°. Slice the lemons lengthwise into 6 wedges per lemon. In an 8” ovenproof baking dish, toss the lemons with the salt. Add the lemon juice and cover tightly with aluminum foil. Bake for about 3 hours until the peels are tender. Cool before using.

Accidental Locavore Preserved Lemons SaltedMy verdict: Remember that either way, you need a few extra lemons for the juice. If you have access to Meyer lemons, both recipes recommend that you use them. Being on the wrong coast…The traditional ones have had about six months in the fridge and are exactly what you would think of as a preserved lemon with that slightly funky taste and still good citrus. The 2.0 roasted ones were very different—much fresher and more like a straight-up lemon. It will be interesting to see how they develop. My real verdict is that if you’re not sure if you’ll like them, or don’t have 30 days, go for the roasted ones (you might even try tossing the dish onto the corner of a slow grill), but you can always buy a lot of lemons and try both! If you want suggestions for using them, check out the June Food & Wine, or finely chop the rind and use it in salad dressing or try them in anything savory in place of (or in addition to) regular lemons.









Easy Roasted Cornish Game Hens With Harissa

by Anne Maxfield on February 5, 2015

Accidental Locavore Cornish Hens With Harissa and LemonThe Accidental Locavore just added Persiana to the cookbook collection. It’s loosely Middle Eastern. This was a supereasy recipe for poussins but Cornish game hens are much more available, so that’s what I used. For 2:

  • 1 large or 2-3 small preserved lemons, roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • ¼ cup harissa (more or less to taste)
  • 2 Cornish game hens

In a food processor or blender, process the lemons, olive oil, salt, pepper and harissa into a fairly smooth paste. Taste and adjust harissa, salt and pepper to taste. Rub into the hens.

Accidental Locavore Cornish Hens With HarissaPreheat the oven to 425°. Place the hens in a small roasting pan or ovenproof dish lined with parchment paper. Roast for about 45-50 minutes until nicely browned on top and cooked through (juice will run clear if you pierce the thigh), 165° on an instant-read thermometer. Serve and enjoy!

My verdict: Great and super easy! I actually made the paste the day before and marinated the birds overnight in a Ziploc, so all I had to do was heat the oven and pop them in. Served over couscous with some of the sauce spooned over them and a little sautéed spinach on the side and this was a delicious weeknight, tired-cook dinner! I make my own preserved lemons-they’re so easy and good. That way they’re always on hand and for this, I just used one large one, which gave the marinade plenty of flavor. The harissa I use is on the mild side. If yours isn’t, adjust it to suit your taste. If it wasn’t winter, the hens might have gone straight to the rotisserie, or gotten butterflied and grilled (and probably will as soon as the weather is better). Having the hens also gave me the idea to taste-test between two well-known brands. Click here for the results.



Accidental Locavore Chicken TagineFor 2011 the Accidental Locavore has decided to start a cook-along, going through the shelves of cookbooks and actually cooking from the recipes. Join in and help to decide which books stay and which are deaccessioned. This week; a tagine of chicken from Claudia Rodin’s Arabesque, with recipes from Morocco, Turkey and Lebanon.  What you see here is adapted from the book with changes made while cooking. The recipe says it serves 4 but you could easily stretch it to 6 with a grain and a vegetable side dish. It’s an easy dish, the only thing that takes time is cooking the chicken, and reducing the sauce.

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 onions grated or very finely chopped (I finely chopped one very large onion)
  • 2-3 garlic cloves crushed
  • 1/2 teaspoon saffron
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 chicken cut into 6-8 pieces
  • salt and pepper
  • juice of 1/2 lemon (I ended up using a whole lemon)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped coriander
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley (flat leaf)
  • peel of 2 preserved lemons (you can make your own, or buy them in Middle Eastern groceries like Kalustyan’s, I used 3 of theirs with some juice from the jar) cut into strips
  • 12-16 green olives (I used a really nice pitted olive mix from Fairway)
  • Optional: 1 box frozen artichoke hearts

In a wide casserole or heavy bottomed pan that can hold all the chicken in one layer, heat the olive oil and add the onions. Saute over medium low heat until they are soft, then add the garlic, saffron, ginger and stir to mix. Add the chicken pieces, season liberally with salt and pepper, and add 1 1/4 cups of water. Bring to a simmer and cover. Cook for 40 minutes, turning the chicken pieces a couple of times.

Stir into the pan the lemon juice, the chopped coriander, parsley, the preserved lemon peel, and the olives. If you’re using artichoke hearts, add them now.  Simmer 10 minutes uncovered until the sauce is thick. If the sauce isn’t thick enough (and mine wasn’t), remove the chicken from the pan, turn up the heat, and reduce the sauce until it’s at the desired consistency. Return the chicken to the pan, and let it heat through. Serve over couscous to absorb the sauce, and enjoy.

My rating: 3 stars (out of 5). The dish as prepared by the book was a little bland. It took longer to cook and reduce the sauce, but it was pretty easy to prepare. If you didn’t have preserved lemons, you could probably use some thin strips of lemon peel from a small lemon. After we ate it, I went back and added the peel of another preserved lemon (total 3), and about a tablespoon of the liquid from the jar, that seemed to help. A few more olives might have helped, if the cook hadn’t been nibbling…

Frank’s rating: 3 1/2 stars: “Good but not great”.

What did you think? Keep the book or deaccession?



Do it Yourself: Preserved Lemons

by Anne Maxfield on January 6, 2011

Accidental Locavore My Preserved LemonsIt’s really easy to make your own preserved lemons, you just cut them up and cover them with salt and a little lemon juice and let them sit in the fridge.You can make more, just double or triple the ingredients.

  • 2 ripe lemons
  • 1/3 cup kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice

Scrub the lemons well and dry them. Cut them into 8 wedges. Toss with the salt and put in a glass jar (canning jars are good here). Pour in the lemon juice. Close the jar tightly and let the lemons sit at room temperature for 7 days, shaking the jar daily to distribute the salt and juice. They will keep in the refrigerator for up to six months. Be sure to rinse them well before using.