How to Ferment Lemons in 9 Easy Steps and Two Recipes — All Posts Healing Harvest Homestead (2024)

NOTE: It’s lemon harvest time in many places, and fermentation is a perfect and traditional way to preserve them for months. Here’s a step-by-step process for fermenting lemons, plus I’ve included two different recipes you can enjoy!

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!

Here are two amazing fermented lemon recipes and how to use them!

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! They were big hits! If you have too much zucchini this year, making fermented zucchini pickles is a great way to preserve them and increase their nutritional value.

The first time I preserved lemons, I didn't like the way they turned out because the pieces were so large. I tried this fermentation experiment a little differently the next time, and YES! Perfection. So I’m sharing this method with you.

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!

FTC Disclosure: There are affiliate links scattered throughout this article. If you click through and make any kind of purchase, I may earn a very small commission at no extra cost to you.

**Pin this for later! :-)

How to Ferment Lemons, a Traditional Form of Food Preservation

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 homemade 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. One of the ways you’ll know if it’s been pasteurized, killing the good organisms off, is to look in the refrigeration section for your kimchi or sauerkraut and look for the word, “raw.”

Also, be sure to consider flavor. A very strong kimchi flavor from the raw starter will affect your entire ferment, for example. This may not be pleasant in a lemon ferment….but then again, it just may, depending on your tastes!

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. Here are the Two Recipe Variations:

There are lots of ways you can spice your lemons, and here are two really great recipe variations. Keep in mind that the process of fermentation enhances and increases the strength of the spices. So blend your chosen spices, and know that they’ll become more powerful through the fermentation process.

Mediterranean Fermented Lemons:

I used Cinnamon chips and a little Cardamom for a Mediterranean spice type ferment. I don’t usually. measure out my spices, but roughly a tablespoon of cut an sifted cinnamon along with 1 tsp cardamom works great. Adjust according to your taste.

This version is a sweeter recipe that give you a beautiful sweet-sour flavor. It’s delicious with rice!

Basic Fermented Lemons:

I simply used Peppercorns and a little minced garlic for a Savory Lemon Pepper flavored ferment. This recipe gives you a savory lemon-pepper flavor that’s just delicious!

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, due to the higher acid content. But when they’re ready, they’re just delicious. Don’t be afraid to do taste tests during the fermentation process. When you like the flavor, just put them in the refrigerator and enjoy as you want! They’ll last for several months.

Step 10) 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!Also, depending on how you spiced them up, you can make decisions about how to use them, too.

Ways to Use Fermented Lemons

  • You can cook them with chicken or other meats

  • Cut them into small pieces and put them into salads

  • Eat them with yogurt

  • Eat them with cottage cheese

  • Cut them up and use them like a relish in sandwiches or wraps—-so good!

  • They’re great in some white or brown rice!

  • Honestly, I love the sweet spice version in oatmeal

There are many other ways to use fermented lemons in cooking! Just let your imagination guide you.

Final Thoughts on Fermenting Fresh Lemons

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:

How to Ferment Eggplant,

Ferment Those Baby Zucchini!,

What is Fermentation, and Why You Should Eat Fermented Foods Every Day,

How to Make Ginger Soda with a Ginger Bug

How to Make Your Homemade Kombucha Fizzy

And for growing indoor food: How to Grow Sprouts Indoors to Eat

There are literally hundreds of article on Healing Harvest Homestead and also videos on my growing channel. I hope you’ll subscribe to both!

Finally….join our Natural Living Community. It’s a natural living group that’s free for everyone to join. We’re OFF social media, so you won’t have “creepy eyes” looking at what you’re looking at. And…you can control your own feed and notifications. It’s a great place! Join us here.

Hugs, Health, & Self-Reliance,


P.S. Don’t forget to get your FREE Herbal Remedy Guide and Cheat Sheet for 10 common and easy to find herbs and their essential oils. Click here now, and I’ll send it right to your inbox!

How to Ferment Lemons in 9 Easy Steps and Two Recipes — All Posts Healing Harvest Homestead (2024)


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