spiced preserved lemons

preserved lemons

After realizing how easy it is to make classic preserved lemons, this time I’m trying a batch based on Madhur Jaffrey's recipe in her World Vegetarian cookbook. This recipe has some added spice for a little extra “kapow” of flavour and I’m anxious to try them.

It’s fascinating how one can combine a few ingredients in a jar, then after a few weeks pass, pull out a transformed and delicious condiment that is beyond the salt, lemons (and this time a few spices) that you put into the jar. I know there is a whole science behind how salt pickles food, but I am content to keep it a mystery and marvel every time I slice and dice one of these wedges. I’m sure you will find many dishes that will benefit from adding one of these zippy little citrons, so go ahead and try them yourself. I think these will be worth waiting for.

In the meantime I’m madly chopping up last year’s batch of preserved lemons into salad dressings, pasta dishes, almost any vegetable dish - especially roasted Brussels sprouts. (Just toss a few cups of trimmed and quartered sprouts with olive oil, salt and pepper and finely slivered…. You guessed it… preserved lemons and roast at 400F for 20 minutes or so … Sweet!)

Note: If you can’t wait 6 weeks to try preserved lemons, try Mark Bittman’s shortcut recipe that can bridge the gap until your own little lemon experiment is ready.



  • 2 ½ pounds of organic lemons
  • juice of 3 organic lemons
  • 10 tablespoons gros grain French sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon of green cardamom seeds
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon pink peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon smoked Hungarian paprika
  • ½ teaspoon of cayenne pepper
  • 16 whole cloves
  • 1 ½ tablespoons of organic or raw sugar
  • 6 - ½ pint or 250 ml. jars (sterilized and fully dried)

sliced lemons


Crush the cardamom pods and remove seeds from husks until you have ½ teaspoon, then grind all the peppercorns and cloves s in a mortar and pestle.


Add the rest of the dry ingredients into a bowl and stir.

Remove the stem end of the lemons then slice into wedges about ¾ inch thick, for the lemons I used that mean cutting into 1/6ths but you may need to adjust depending on the size of your lemons.

Toss the sliced lemons with the spices (using your hands is the easiest way to do this).


Divide the lemons, salt and spices into the jars fitting the slices as tightly as possible (you may need to adjust how many jars you need depending on your size of lemons).

Add a little of the squeezed lemon juice into every jar so each is filled nicely then lid them screwing the caps on finger tight.

lemon juice

Let the jars sit in the sunshine (if you can find some) for a few days, shaking them once a day to make sure all the sliced have some salt and juice on them. After a few days when they are on their pickling pathway, you can move them to a shelf until they are fully "preserved" which should take a month or 6 weeks.

lemon jar

When ready to use, rinse the lemon slice very well under water, discard the flesh and just use the peel (finely diced).

Store "ripened" lemons in the fridge.

lemon jar

(Hmmm... looks like someone else is looking for some sun...)