Pickled Lemons are Your New Best Friend

Influence of salt and lemon as one

My kitchen has an calendar of its own. 2 seasons, oven off (hot outside) and oven on (cold outside). We are entering the oven off season as the fresh greens and veggies poke out of the ground and find their way to my kitchen. I won't be cooking them, but I would love to layer them with homemade condiments, pickles, marinade, dressings, and other goods. Pickled lemons are the new phenomenon around here, and I've been salivating over them since I spotted them on Tigress in a Pickle's blog. Salty, lemony, punchy, bright, and spicy acid flavors with an exclamation point. You can use them anywhere you would use salt, or every darn place.

Hot Pickled Lemons

1 lb lemons, seeded, quartered and cut into 1/8ths, organic are best
pinch saffron
1 teaspoon cayenne powder
3/4 tablespoon sugar
4 1/2 tablespoons sea salt
2-3 extra lemons

Coat lemons with all the ingredients in a bowl. Add to a clean 1 quart jar with a lid. Squeeze down the lemon with a very clean hand. I like to think of it as punching in slow motion. Juice should rise about 3/4 of the way up the jar. If not, add juice from extra lemons.

The smell is nice too

Let sit on a window sill for 7-10 days. Shake and punch down every day. By the 3rd day the juice will rise over the lemons (see top photo), which is ideal. Pickles are ready to eat when they are soft and easy to chew. Rinse under water, scrap lemon flesh from the rinds, and serve. Keeps for 2-3 months chilled.

Pickled lemons on day one, the fluids cover 3/4 of the lemons

Spiced Pickled Lemons

1 lb lemons, quartered, seeded, and cut into 1/8ths, organic are best
seeds of 15 cardamom pods, or 1/4 tsp ground
8 whole cloves
1 tsp whole black peppercorns
3/4 tablespoon sugar
4 1/2 tablespoons sea salt
2-3 extra lemons

Repeat the instructions as above.

Everything about this recipe is elegant and stupid easy

Here are suggestions to get you to pickling: serve next to grilled fish, shrimp, seafood, in stews (think tangine), in salad dressing, roasted with potatoes or vegetables, chopped up fine on top of steamed veggies, garnishing olives, Baba ghanoush, or hummous. Maybe a twist of pickled lemon with some gin and tonic, are you sold yet?

100s of divine uses

A quickie recipe: Heat green beans in 1/4 cup water seasoned with 1 pickled lemon over medium heat in a sauce pan. Bring to a boil and drain immediately. Toss with a few dabs of butter, finely diced pickled lemon and 1 small minced clove of garlic. Serve.


  1. yum! love pickled lemons! any kind but esp. pickled. thank you for the recipe.

  2. my mouth just watered at the pictures. i love lemon and hot pepper! i can eat it fresh


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