Preserved Indian Hot Lemons

Preserved Indian Hot Lemons

I love using fresh lemons and lemon juice but we have a hard time of finding a steady supply of organic lemons.  And when I do find them, they always seem to mold before I can use them all.

These lemons can take a considerable amount of salt so they are more of a cure than a lactoferment.  There might be some microbial action going on, but not a whole lot.  Still, it’s a great way to preserve the harvest and adds wonderful flavor to meals.  Because there isn’t much probiotic umpf to them, I don’t hesitate to add them to hot meals.  These taste great stuffed in the cavity of a roasting chicken.  Add them to Lemon Dhal (lentils) for a tasty treat.  Blended up in Lemon Poppyseed Dressing, they are amazing.

Use these lemons whole or use just the peel (the peel is the best part).

Preserved Indian Hot Lemons

Indian Hot Lemons

  • 4 lbs of organic lemons
  • 2 tsp turmeric (2″ knob of fresh if you can find it)
  • 1 tbsp red pepper flakes (more or less depending on your tolerance of spice)
  • 3″ knob of ginger, peeled and sliced
  • 4 tsp fenugreek
  • 4 tsp mustard seed
  • Sea salt or Himalayan pink salt

Mix all your spices together in a small bowl.

Sprinkle a thin layer of salt in the bottom of your jar (since there is not much gas build up with these, I think using a Fido Jar is perfectly fine).

Quarter lemons by cutting down close to the stem end but don’t cut completely.  Open up gently and sprinkle the inside with salt.

Quartered lemon


Place a layer of lemons inside your jar and press down with a rolling pin, kraut pounder or wooden spoon to release the juices.  Sprinkle some of the spice mixture on top.

Keep layering salted lemons and spices, pressing down to release juices until you reach the shoulder of your jar. After a few layers, you should have enough juice to start covering the lemons.

If you have lemons poking above the brine, add the juice of enough lemons to make sure everything is under the brine.





I used a jar that fit inside my larger jar to help push the lemons under the brine.

Let set at room temperature for 4 weeks. Move to cold storage.  Will keep for years.

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9 comments to Preserved Indian Hot Lemons

  • Nicole

    How long do u let the lemons “ferment” or cure before using?? Sounds fun, spicy and tasty…..cant wait to try it!

  • Beverly Parkison

    How can I copy and print this recipe. Is there a” print click” I’m missing.?

  • […] I have never tried this one but I will be…it has me intrigued! Pickle Me Too’s Preserved Indian Hot Lemons… […]

  • leslie

    Just made these and they look so beautiful in the jar can’t wait to eat them! Thanks for sharing all these wonderful recipes.

  • Zacky

    With all due respect for your talents and creativity, this recipe’s name is quite offensive to a Moroccan. Preserved lemons is a time honored, traditional food from Morocco. Adding a mix of spices reminiscent of Indian cuisine doesn’t make them Indian. It reminds me of the ”Kimchi Incident”. Japanese offended greatly Korean people when they appropriated kimchi (you can google it). I kind of feel the same reading this recipe. Preserved lemons are so very much infused in our culture that it feels difficult to see it defined by an other country on an another continent.

    • Orthrus

      Dear Zacky,

      Your belief that preserved lemons are traditional only to Morocco is incorrect. Techniques for preserving lemons are found across Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. There is written evidence of Persian salted lemons from the 10th century and the memoirs of Ibn Baṭūṭah described the use of pickled lemons in Mogadishu. Preserved, spiced, and pickled lemon (and lime) recipes are also “traditional” to regions such as southern India and Thailand.

      The true origin is lost in history, but there is no evidence to suggest it was unique to Morocco.

  • Zacky

    Actually, what I was refering to is named the Japan and Korea Kimchi dispute.
    This being said, your recipe sounds yummy, and I will certainly try it when making my next batch of preserved lemons. 🙂 I will call it Spiced Preserved Lemons.

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