How to Ferment Lemons in 9 Easy Steps (Plus Two Different Recipes: Mediterranean & Garlic Pepper)
I have become addicted to fermenting foods--ALL the foods! So when I was gifted with about a million lemons a month ago, I had to find some great ways to use them! Of course, I turned to fermentation, which is a way to preserve your food so it lasts longer, while (magic of all magics)---supplies probiotic goodness and extra nutrition to your body!
I'm a huge fan of fermentation because you have three great things going on at the same time: preservation AND raw health benefits and probiotics in your food to serve your body.
Fermenting lemons is not the first time I’ve experimented with lacto-fermenting fruits. These Spiced Fermented Peaches are really quite interesting and tasty; and I just had to give some frozen cranberries a try last year too!
I've tried preserving lemons before, but I didn't like the way they turned out because the pieces were so large. I tried this fermentation experiment a little differently this time!
Here is how I fermented these two batches and the different spices I used in each one. Depending on how they are spiced, you can use them in different ways, and I'll give you some ideas for ways to use fermented and preserved lemons too!
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How to Ferment Lemons to Preserve Them for Later
Step 1) Slice your lemons about 1/4 inch thick or so.
Step 2) Pack them into your Mason jar to within 1 inch of the top or a little more.
Step 3) Add Sea Salt
If you are using a starter culture of some type (see below), add 1/2 tablespoon of salt per quart Mason jar. If you are NOT using a starter culture, that's fine...just add 1 tablespoon to 1 1/2 tablespoon of sea salt to your jar.
Step 4) Add 1/4 Cup Starter Culture per Quart Mason Jar (optional, but recommended)
About Starter Cultures: A starter culture is basically some kind of liquid that contains the good organisms (bacteria and yeasts) necessary for your ferment to occur.
There are two main types of starter cultures I use in my lacto-fermentation process: Either Whey or Leftover Brine from a Previous RAW Ferment. I emphasize “raw” for a reason. If you use store-bought kimchi or sauerkraut and it has been pasteurized, it will not work!
The good organisms you need and want will be dead. Any raw ferment you buy in the stores should be in the refrigerator section and should say, “raw” somewhere on the packaging.
If you don't have this kind of liquid on hand, just add about 1 extra tablespoon of salt to the water. This will create an environment where fermentation can happen (albeit a little more slowly) while not allowing bad organisms (potentially dangerous molds, etc.) to grow.
Starter Option 1) Whey:
Whey is easy to make! It will store in the fridge for at least two weeks--just do the smell test. Here is information about how to make whey.
Starter Option 2) Leftover Brine:
You can use 1/4 cup of liquid from any raw ferment that's already happening. The thing is, you have to pay attention to how it's flavored. For example, if you use liquid from a batch of sauerkraut, you will have that flavor. You probably don't want that on your lemons! Basically, to get this kind of starter, use about 1/4 cup of liquid from a raw fermented batch of food! That's it!
Step 5) Now add your spices.
There are lots of ways you can spice your lemons, and here are the two spiced lemon recipes I used this time:
Mediterranean Fermented Lemons:
I used Cinnamon chips and a little Cardamom for a Mediterranean spice type ferment.
Basic Fermented Lemons:
I simply used Peppercorns and a little minced garlic for a Lemon Pepper flavored ferment
Step 6) Fill With Filtered or Distilled Water
Fill to within an inch of the top of the jar with water.
Step 7) Weigh Down Your Lemons
Place a weight of some type over the lemons to hold them under the liquid to prevent mold from forming.
Step 8) Get Your Airlock Going On
Place your airlock system on top. OR, if you don't have an airlock, you can just use a lid. You'll simply have to "burp" your ferment once to twice daily to be sure to allow the gases that are released to escape. **My favorite airlocks for fermenting in Mason jars are these silicone nipple-type airlocks. They work great and are easy to clean!
Step 9) Ferment Away
Allow your ferment to sit for about two to four weeks. I've discovered lemons take a little longer to ferment that other vegetables, probably because of the acids.
Step 10) Enjoy!
Test, and when you like them....Enjoy!
You can eat these plain if you love lemons! Other ways to use these are in recipes that call for savory lemons, such as Lemon Chicken, Pork Chops, etc. The great thing is you can also use the brine.
What Do Fermented Preserved Lemons Taste Like?
I love the taste of fermented lemons! While I'm not a fan of eating lemons in their original state, lemons that have been fermented are much more mild and easy on the digestive system. They have a softer flavor, but still retain that amazing lemon taste!
I hope you enjoyed this post on fermenting lemons! The fun thing about fermentation is that it's all pretty much the same! You can substitute all kinds of veggies and even fruits (although the process for sweet fruits is a bit different).
If you are interested in fermentation, you might enjoy these other articles:
What is Fermentation, and Why You Should Eat Fermented Foods Every Day, and go ahead and search Healing Harvest Homestead! There’s a TON of fermentation information over there.
Please feel free to leave comments! I love and appreciate them, as they help me improve!
Hugs & Self-Reliance,
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