How To Preserve Lemons

How To Preserve Lemons |

I love living in Virginia for so many reasons.

One of the top reasons is that we have four lovely seasons, but never too much extreme weather.

This allows us to grow a MULTITUDE of different fruit and nut trees.

Apples, pears, peaches, cherries, plums, and figs grow quite well here. (Check out my awesome new little cherry trees here!)

Really, the only major kind of fruit we can’t grow here (besides the tropical varieties) is citrus.

Our eventual goal is to be eating only locally sourced food, most of which we will be growing ourselves. Technically this would mean no more citrus.

Well, I’m not ok with that.

I need lemons and grapefruit in my life. Especially during the dead of winter when the apples begin to lose their crispness, and no other fresh fruit is growing locally.

Therefore, we will be making a few exceptions to the “Eat completely locally” rule.

Here is the main list of non-local food we will keep on purchasing even once our homestead is fully functioning.

  • Salt– Yeah, we don’t have a salt mine on our property…
  • Tea and Coffee. Mostly we will drink herbal teas, but kombucha needs the real stuff. Plus, my cup of decaf each morning is not something I am willing to give up.
  • Spices. All our amazing homemade baked goods are so much better with some cinnamon and cloves. Oh yeah, and pepper is somewhat of a staple here as well.
  • Small amounts of sucanat. We will be sweetening most things with our own honey and homemade maple syrup, but there are a few “fancy” recipes that require a non-liquid sweetener.
  • Raw cacao and cacao butter– Does this need any explanation? I need my chocolate. lol
    Rice. No fields that can be flooded every year on our property. Although I have read about a rice that can grow without being flooded. Maybe we will look into that a bit later on…
  • Last, but not least- CITRUS! We will order several boxes of citrus straight from Florida each winter when it is in season. (We are starting this tradition now, and will be slowly weaning ourselves off of buying citrus from the grocery store.) 

I actually never buy oranges and grapefruit out of season, but lemons and limes are a different story.

To stretch out the lemon season, and prevent having to buy them from the store, my plan is to preserve them by lacto-fermentation.

Then they will be preserved for an entire summer’s worth of salsas, salads, and sauces. (Plus a million other things I use lemons for!)

It’s actually super easy to preserve lemons! 

All you need is:

Thinly slice 6 of the lemons. At this point you can choose to leave them in the round slices, or you can cut the slices into quarters.

How To Preserve Lemons | areturntosimplicity.comMix the sliced lemons with the salt and cinnamon in a bowl.

How To Preserve Lemons | areturntosimplicity.comLightly press them into the wide mouth quart mason jar. 

How To Preserve Lemons | areturntosimplicity.comSqueeze the juice of the two remaining lemons into the jar, and press the lemons down again, until they are covered in the juice. Place a sanitary weight on top of the lemons to hold them under the liquid. (I adore these glass weights from Fermentools!)

How To Preserve Lemons |

Assemble your airlock lid, fill halfway with water, and place the lid on the jar.

*Note, if you don’t have an airlock lid system, you can use a regular jar lid, but you will need to slightly open the lid each day to “burp” the jar. 

How To Preserve Lemons | areturntosimplicity.comLet the jar of lemons sit in a dark place for two weeks. Then transfer to cold storage. (the top shelf of your fridge, or a root cellar.)

There are a multitude of uses for lacto-fermented lemons. Really, you can use them for anything you would use fresh lemons for!

The juice, the flesh, and the rind are all awesome and flavorful. Just keep in mind that they will be slightly salty, so you may need to reduce the amount of salt in whatever recipe you are using the lemons for. 

Now, I can order fresh, in-season lemons from Florida in the winter, and enjoy them ALL year long! Plus, we reap the added benefit of probiotics from the lacto-fermentation. Double bonus!

Are you as addicted to lemons as I am?

5.0 from 1 reviews
Preserved Lemons
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1 quart
  • 8 organic lemons
  • 3 Tablespoons of real salt
  • Pinch of cinnamon
  • Airlock lid
  • Wide mouth quart mason jar
  • Sanitized weight
  1. Thinly slice 6 of the lemons.
  2. Mix in a bowl with the salt and cinnamon.
  3. Lightly press into the quart jar.
  4. Squeeze the juice of the two remaining lemons into the jar.
  5. Press the lemons down again, until they are covered in the juice.
  6. Place your weight on top of the lemons.
  7. Assemble the air lock lid and place on the jar.
  8. Keep the jar of lemons in a cool dark place for two weeks before transferring to cool storage. (the top shelf of your fridge, or a root cellar.)

How To Preserve Lemons |


This post has been shared at Thrifty Thursday, Friday FavoritesTuesdays With a Twist, The Homestead Blog Hop, Down Home Blog Hop, The Home Acre Hop, Simple Lives, The Pin Junkie, Freedom Fridays, From the Farm Hop, Old Fashioned Fridays, Simple Saturdays, Simply Natural Saturdays, Wildcrafting Wednesday, and The Art of Homemaking

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10 responses to “How To Preserve Lemons”

  1. Gentle Joy says:

    I appreciated your list… and also the tutorial on how to preserve lemons… very helpful information. Thank you.

  2. I haven’t jumped into the fermenting pool just yet, but I think lemons might be a good place to start. A lot of the foods we use lemons with also have salt, so I wouldn’t be so afraid of the flavor variation. Thank you for posting this tutorial. I have pinned it and hope to try it soon. :o)

  3. JES says:

    I think I take our abundance of lemons for granted! I still like the idea of preserving them though. I am wondering if you can do a sugar water brine for the lemons too so that one can be for salty foods and the other for sweet foods (like the brine used to make the apple scrap vinegar). Just a thought and something I will look into. Thanks for sharing on the Art of Home-Making Mondays this week 🙂

  4. Ann says:

    I just froze quite a bit of lemon juice but I will have to try this! thank you….

  5. Janet Garman says:

    Thank you for doing this post. It inspired me and I processed all of my meyer lemons except for three of them. Can’t wait to use the fermented lemons in chicken and fish recipes

  6. lisa lynn says:

    Great idea, Angi! Thanks for sharing on The HomeAcre Hop last week 🙂 I’m featuring your post this week!

  7. lisa wright says:

    where in Florida do you order the lemons? Are they organic


    • Angi says:

      We have always ordered them from the local highschoolers when they do their fundraiser in the fall, but we are looking for an organic source, Lisa!

  8. jenni says:

    You CAN grow citrus in Virginia! I’ve been growing lemons, limes, mandarins and just recently navel oranges in pots here in Atlanta. You’re pretty close to a wonderful nursery called Edible Landscaping and they have dwarf citrus trees. You bring them in in the winter, and put under bright grow lights. Usually they start to produce in the 2nd or 3rd year. Check it out online!

  9. Amy Guzmán says:

    I have a lemon tree and I’m going to try this! ?


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