Olive Oil Preserved Lemons with Cardamom, Chilli and Cinnamon

, from Issue #43. September, 2015
Photography by Aaron McLean.
Olive Oil Preserved Lemons with Cardamom, Chilli and Cinnamon

The lemons need to be salted two days ahead.


20 small, firm, unblemished thin-skinned lemons
1½ cups coarse sea salt
4 cinnamon sticks
8 small bay leaves
8 small dried whole red chillis
2 teaspoons whole black peppercorns
2 teaspoons whole fennel seeds
8 whole cardamom pods
6-8 cups olive oil

sterile jars with glass or plastic-coated lids


Scrub the lemons and dry them well.

Cut each lemon lengthwise from the stem end, into quarters, stopping 1 cm from the bottom.

Place the lemons in a wide ceramic or glass dish and pack the inside of each lemon firmly with salt then reshape. Leave any excess salt around the lemons. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside in a cool place for 2 days.

Carefully lift each lemon out of the dish, leaving the juices behind but including all the undissolved salt left inside the lemons. Layer the lemons and aromatics in each jar then add enough oil to fill the jars and completely cover the lemons. Seal and leave for at least 2 weeks in a cool dry cupboard.

To use: Remove what is needed from the jar. Scrape off the flesh and discard then slice or dice the skin as required by the recipe. 

Cook’s tip: I managed to source very small lemons when making this recipe. If you can only get medium lemons use 12-14 instead.