Preserving Lemons: A Sweet Way to Save a Sour Fruit{33}

Preserving lemons never looked or tasted so good.
plenty of lemons

Last month my friend Myra gave me some Meyer Lemons from her mother’s tree in California. I think my response was somewhere between abject gushing and that of accepting an Academy Award. Yep, just shy of tearing up and saying, “I’d like to thank Myra, her mother Fern, and all the lemon growers everywhere who elevate our culinary lives and our pucker with these sunny little orbs.”

A couple weeks later, Fern ships me an entire box. And like the saying goes, “When life gives you lemons, make pie.” Well, at least that’s my version. Fern’s generous gift needed attending to, but I wasn’t sure how to proceed. I knew I would share some of the lemons with many of my like-minded, lemon-loving friends, but I would need to preserve some of the lemons to avoid spoilage. And then it came to me, I would preserve the lemons by pureeing them whole in sugar, like my first step in making shaker lemon pie filling. Funny thing is, once I made this, I learned (through sampling, of course) that preserving lemons with sugar and by freezing captures a truly fresh lemony flavor good for just about any recipe or dish needing some brightness and citrusy notes.

How to Preserve a lot of lemons for a later day.

lots of lemonsStep 1: Scrub lemons clean and dry off.

small and large lemonStep 2: Grade lemons for size. Ideally, you want two large lemons per pint batch. If small lemons, I use four per batch.

quartered lemonsStep 3: With peel on, slice off both tip ends of each lemon, and quarter lemon lengthwise.

de-seed lemonsStep 4: With kitchen scissors, cut out the center interior pith running the length of the lemon quarter.

de seeded lemonsStep 5: Remove seeds, which is easy now, since cutting the center pith releases them.

lemons sugar pureedStep 6: Cut quarters in half and place in food processor with two cups of sugar.

Step 7: Pulse until chopped into small pieces.

Step 8: Then,  turn the food processor on for 2-3 minutes until lemon mixture is a thick puree.

lemon puree in a jarStep 9: Pour lemon-sugar puree into pint jar or ziploc bag, leaving about half an inch air space from the top.

preserving lemons in a pureed form

Step 10: Pop a lid on each jar, tighten and freeze.

preserving lemons pureed with sugar

The puree doesn’t freeze solid, but instead stays spoonable. So, should you need a dollop of fresh lemon flavor, reach for the freezer. By preserving lemons today, I have lemon pie (and more) tomorrow.

Uses for homemade Lemon Puree, in addition to Shaker Lemon Pie filling:

To Flavor

  • yogurt
  • baked goods
  • salad dressing
  • oatmeal
  • granola
  • side dishes
  • ice cream
  • brining solution
  • meat marinade
  • sauces


shaker lemon pie -Buddy's favorite

Buddy studying and stewing over who is going to get the bigger slice of pie.

tom and bj lemons

My friend BJ, asked “how do you rate?”  To which I replied, “I have no idea, but one thing’s for sure, Miss Fern has a pie coming her way when she visits the island this summer!”

Thank you Fern and Myra, from one grateful lover of lemons.

Shaker Lemon Pie: The Recipe

Shaker Lemon Pie Recipe