Preserving lemons in honey

This post was most recently updated on September 7th, 2021

There are several ways that you can preserve lemons to use at a later time. Preserving lemons in honey is an easy and effective way to make your lemons last longer. Honey preserved lemon can be used to make a delicious tea in the winter, it is especially soothing if you have a sore throat. A honey preserved lemon slice is a yummy addition to the top of a cake or a bowl of ice cream.

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Lemons preserved in honey should not be confused with a New Zealand favourite – lemon honey – also known as lemon curd. See here for my lemon honey recipe.

I love to preserve lemons in honey at the beginning of winter when lemons are cheaper. We use raw fresh honey because my mother has been hives and keeps us in ample supply. But making this real lemon honey is super easy and it will last for months in the fridge to help soothe those winter blues.

How to preserve lemons without salt

Preserved lemons are traditionally made with salt, you can find my salted preserved lemon recipe here.

Adding lemons to honey is the next best way to preserve them I think. If you don’t have a lot of honey to use, you can simply grate the rind off the lemon and juice them, and add both the rind and the juice to ice cube trays and store them in the freezer to use another day.

Making a fermented lemon honey

This lemon honey preserve is really a fermented lemon honey. It takes the natural yeasts and bacteria on the lemon skins and allows them to mix with the honey to grow and reproduce.

Fermented lemons are more commonly made with salt in morocco, but they have also been fermented with honey for thousands of years in other parts of the Middle East.

The acidic nature of the lemon and the high osmotic pressure of the honey combined prevents the bad bacteria growing and provides a wonderful place for beneficial probiotic bacteria to grow as the lemon juice loosens and dilutes the honey.

Once you have fermented the honey and lemons long enough that you like the flavour, you can place the mixture in the fridge to slow down or stop the fermentation process.

How long can you keep lemon honey?

Once it is placed in the fridge, your honey preserved lemons will last for about a year. Be sure to discard them if any sign of pink or fluffy grey or white mold occurs.

Uses for preserved honey lemons

This sticky honey lemon mixture will take on the wonderful lemon flavor. The juice will mix with the lemons and become a runny lemon syrup. This sweet and lemony syrup can be used medicinally to calm a sore throat or sooth a tickly throat. But it is also delicious on scones/biscuits or drizzled on your favourite cereal or ice cream.

Honey preserved lemon peel can be used in place of candied lemon peel in recipes and makes a delightful treat.

If you have some fresh ginger, you can add it to the mixture and make my homemade cough syrup.

You can add a tablespoon of the mixture to a cup of greek yogurt for a fresh, sweet treat.

Lemon honey syrup makes a great addition to vinaigrettes or salad dressings.

How to preserve lemons with honey

You can make this recipe with any lemons that you have. I tend to use lemons from my meyer lemon tree because that is what I have available. Ideally, you will use organic lemons because the skins will be in the syrup.

The honey you choose will strongly influence the final product. We use our locally made, raw honey. The more mild the honey, the more the lemon flavor will shine through. Manuka honey will give a stronger flavour, but it is high in medicinal qualities so it is a good option if you want to use the syrup in a cold fighting capacity.

You need :

2-3 lemons

1 cup of honey

a mason jar

Wash and dry the lemons and cut them in to 1/4 inch (5mm) slices. Layer a few slices of lemon in the bottom of your jar, drizzle over a large spoonful of honey.

Continue to layer up until you run out of lemon slices. Add another spoonful or two of honey and set the brew aside to ferment for a day or two on the bench. 

Shake or stir the jar daily. 

After a few days you should start tasting the syrup, and once you like the flavour, or after a maximum of two weeks you can move your jar to the refrigerator. If you leave the mixture too long it can move from a simple probiotic ferment to a yeast-driven, alcohol making ferment, it is still safe to consume, but now you are making a lemon honey mead which was not what we were aiming for!

Notes on making honey preserved lemons

The pieces of lemon in the syrup can be removed, or left in there. They can be used in tea, on top of cereal or yogurt, or added in to cakes.

Unlike preserving lemons in salt, preserving lemons in honey will not remove the bitterness from the pith, so it is best to remove the skins before eating or cooking them.

If you are using store-bought lemons, make sure to scrub them with sea salt or kosher salt and rinse well to remove the wax.

Remove blemishes from the lemons using a knife before you use the lemons.

You can also add spices such as cardamom, cloves, or ginger to the above recipe for an enhanced flavor.

 

Preserving lemons in honey

Preserving lemons in honey

Yield: 1 pint
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes

This honey preserved lemon recipe creates a delicious fermented lemon syrup and tasty honey lemon peel.

Ingredients

  • 2-3 lemons
  • 1 cup of honey
  • a mason jar

Instructions

    Wash and dry the lemons and cut them in to 1/4 inch (5mm) slices. Layer a few slices of lemon in the bottom of your jar, drizzle over a large spoonful of honey.

    Continue to layer up until you run out of lemon slices. Add another spoonful or two of honey and set the brew aside to ferment for a day or two on the bench. 

    Shake or stir the jar daily. 

    After a few days you should start tasting the syrup, and once you like the flavour, (or after a maximum of two weeks) you can move your jar to the refrigerator. If you leave the mixture too long it can move from a simple probiotic ferment to a yeast-driven, alcohol making ferment, it is still safe to consume, but now you are making a lemon honey mead which was not what we were aiming for!

 

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