Pickled lemons

As usual for this time of the year we are blessed with an over-abundance of citrus fruit. Having made limoncellos with lime, tangelo and of course lemons, squeezed and frozen tangelo juice into large ice cube trays and given away heaps I was still left with loads of lemons so in the interests of furthering my current passion of fermenting things I found recipes for pickled lemons that involved leaving the lemons in a jar of very salty brine and watching them ferment over a week or so.

So far the flavour, though very intense, is quite interesting. I predict that a small piece of the resulting rind will be amazing with a shot of tequila. I am sure that it will go well with roast lamb and in salad dressings and anything else that benefits from a few grated bits of lemon zest.

Because I have loads of lemons and salt is cheap I have nothing to lose by giving this a go and it is creating interest and looks great on the kitchen bench.

Pickled Lemons


  • 8-12 lemons or as many as will fit into the jar when chopped up and squashed down – well scrubbed
  • 1/4 cup salt without fillers or iodine (I grind up rock salt as it is cheaper than salt flakes and comes in bigger packs)
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • 2 tsp turmeric


Chop off the top and bottom of the lemons then slice them into 6ths or 8ths depending on the size of the fruit. Then cut each segment into 5mm thick slices.

To check the quantity I pack and squash the slices into the jar I will be using as I go. I stop chopping when the jar is almost full.

Put all the sliced lemon pieces into a big bowl and add the salt, turmeric and chilli flakes and stir well.


Pack the lemon back into the jar adding the bay leaves and cinnamon stick mashing the lemons down to get out air bubbles.

Once the jar is packed, add the juice extra lemons to cover the fruit.

Put on a lid and shake the jar well. If using a metal lid add a couple of layers of plastic wrap so the lemon juice doesn’t come in contact with the metal. It would be better to use a container with a plastic lid or glass swing top with a silicon seal.

Leave the jar in a warm, sunny place, shaking regularly and even inverting the jar for a day or two to keep the lemons covered.

They will ferment and soften. Taste from time to time and when they have achieved a flavour you are happy with refrigerate to slow further fermentation.

Now what can I do with it?

I and any brave visitors have been tasting this mix (they know if they come here they will be offered tastes of strange things, I don’t like to disappoint) and discussion over how to use it has been interesting.

This is REALLY salty so use discretion when trying it in anything. Start small!

Tequila shots – the salt and lemon in one go on a small teaspoon

As a side with a margarita – forget the salt on the rim, a bit of this in a shot glass to have from a teaspoon between sips. We did rub it round the rim but although it tastrd good the look was a bit off putting – yellow slime running down the edge of the glass!

Hummus and tabouleh – or anything that has lemon and salt in it

Salad dressing – add to olive oil and other herbs.


No comments yet.

Leave a Reply