Clif Notes

Preserving Lemons

Originally Posted by Efrain Barragan on Monday, February 13, 2012

A post from our Master Chef, Anna Callaway

I am really enjoying the lemons this winter. Every new pick seems to be juicier than the last, cocooned in the perfect rind for zesting.

I especially love the distinctive bowl gracing my kitchen counter. This year, I decided I wanted to preserve them so I would be able to enjoy them year round. I went to my cookbook library, in search of the perfect recipe, and set my sight on Thomas Keller’s rendition from “Bouchon”. Thomas Keller is chef/proprietor of Napa Valley favorite French Laundry. It’s great to have special ingredients on hand to spruce up an ordinary weeknight to something really special.

Special Note:
The lemons should be washed thoroughly in sink or small tub of soapy water, rinse and drain. I like to wear some thin non-latex gloves when working with foods that will be prepared for long-term storage.

First I slice my lemons very thin and alternate sugar and sea salt in each layer. I then stack them so they can be reformed into their original shape. Be careful to remove the seeds with the tip of your knife.

Your finished lemons should fit neatly in a pre-sterilized glass jar. Put these in your refrigerator for a 24 hour period.

The juice from the lemons will release. Next, pour some Clif Family Winery – Extra Virgin Olive Oil to fill up the extra space. Refrigerate for 3 weeks. For longer storage, drain the Olive Oil which can be used for salad dressings, marinades, etc. Freeze the sliced lemons for long term use.

These lemons can be your “secret ingredient” in fish preparations, morrocan foods, cioppino, braised meats, etc. Enjoy!


6 lemons washed
Sea Salt
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Cut the ends off each lemon so that it stands. Slice each lemon thinly and carefully remove all seeds.
Reform each lemon. Lay the bottom slice on a work surface and sprinkle with a light dusting of salt. Top with the next slice of lemon and a light dusting of sugar. Continue alternating the slices with layers of salt and sugar. When all the lemons are re-formed, stand them upright in a snug-fitting container. Place in the refrigerator for 24 hours. Pour enough Olive Oil to cover the lemons and return to the refrigerator for 3 days. Drain the oil and reserve for other uses. (The lemons can be refrigerated for 3 weeks or can be frozen for long storage.)

-Thomas Keller’s Bouchon recipe

Anna Callaway is the Master Chef at Clif Family Winery and creates the Gary & Kit’s Napa Valley products. You can find more from Anna on her blog

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