Sweet Preserved Roasted Lemons


I roasted lemons! Cut organic ones into wedges, sprinkled them with sugar and blasted them until they turned soft and fleshy and oozed tart, caramelized juice. Then popped them into a jar, poured hot simple syrup (equal parts sugar and water, brought to a simmer) overtop and tucked in a vanilla bean (a rosemary sprig might have been a good idea too) for good measure.

So I just had to pop in and tell you about it, even though it’s far too dark to take a decent picture and Mike is patiently waiting for me to start a movie (One Week), because nothing excites me on Saturday night like applying heat to a citrus fruit in a way I hadn’t considered before. And I thought you might get a special little thrill out of it too.

My activity relates directly to an article I’m working on on preserved lemons, which I admit I never fully understood. I wish I could tell you how to make the chicken tagine we’ve eaten for two nights straight, plus lunch (it really is better the next day) but I have to hold out. But it occurred to me as I played with the salty, brined lemons that have their limits, that lemons could as easily be preserved as something sweet; or at least not so salty as to be prohibitive in the kitchen. Not so sweet as to be marmalade-ish, I have plans to thinly slice these into a pound cake tomorrow, and perhaps whirl them into something or other. I’ll keep you posted.


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27 comments on “Sweet Preserved Roasted Lemons

  1. bellini valli
    January 24, 2010 at 9:01 am

    I have made preserved lemons but this is a new twist.

  2. stacey snacks
    January 24, 2010 at 9:38 am

    What a good idea!
    I needed preserved lemons this weekend for a couscous butternut squash recipe and couldnt find them anywhere. I had to mail order them online.
    These would’ve worked out even better for my recipe!

  3. JulieVR
    January 24, 2010 at 9:42 am

    I think so! Smitten Kitchen once wrote “preserved lemons are an acquired taste I haven’t acquired yet”, and I so agree! I think the sweet version would work just as well in most recipes as the salty.

  4. Cheryl
    January 24, 2010 at 10:50 am

    Lemonade! Seriously. Whir that syrup/roasted lemon mixture and make lemonade. Even adultify it with some bourbon or gin. Or chopped on top of roasted cauliflower?

  5. JulieVR
    January 24, 2010 at 11:00 am

    Oh SO many things! I’ve already whirred some into hummus, and added the syrup to vinaigrette. And other things. Don’t want to give too much away before the article comes out in City Palate!

  6. rea
    January 24, 2010 at 11:25 am

    browned butter pound cake with your lemons cut up inside.

    whatcha think?

  7. Vivian
    January 24, 2010 at 11:31 am

    Maybe a combo of a little salt, a little sweet…as in the salted caramel recipe?

  8. Vivian
    January 24, 2010 at 11:35 am

    One more thought…you already have three of the four classic taste combinations with sweet, sour and salty if you add sea salt to the mix. How about completing it with “hot”…a few red pepper flakes or a small bird chili? It would look pretty too.

  9. Robyn in Mountain (Ontario that is)
    January 24, 2010 at 11:46 am

    Would love to know what all can be done with those amazing looking lemons. You are so creative. Julie!

    Was just going though your site looking for a recipe for the ultimate gravy for poutine, does one exist?

    Also, had a chuckle when I came across a previous blog about your new red boots — my Sasquatch feet are 11s too, isn’t it fun buying shoes :-0 Loved the mention of the dust on the top stair — I think we can all identify with the dust.

  10. Theresa
    January 24, 2010 at 1:20 pm

    These would be really beautiful baked into a brioche, with marzipan or almonds. Lovely.

  11. Lana
    January 24, 2010 at 2:56 pm

    The top photo is gorgeous and the lemons look so good!..MMMMM…

  12. Fiona
    January 24, 2010 at 3:01 pm

    Those are beautiful! Tasty, too, I bet.

    I liked One Week. It was a great bit of Canadiana. And it had Gord Downie!

  13. Laurie
    January 24, 2010 at 3:27 pm

    Thank you for considering the tagine recipe, Julie. Sorry, I didn’t mean to put you on the spot.

    The baked lemons looked so good that I pondered about them during the night. What would lemon cocoanut squares taste like made with roasted lemons instead of fresh lemon juice and zest? What about roasted lemon baked chicken – or duck with roasted lemon instead of orange? Come to that, what would happen if you roasted oranges in the same way?

    ponder ponder ponder

  14. Dahlia
    January 24, 2010 at 4:51 pm

    Mmm… pound cake.
    I’ve made something similar, but quite different, at work: it was actually lemon comfit (hours of cooking in different baths of simple syrup) rolled in sugar, and left out to dry. Nice and crunchy. It was pretty on the pre-dessert plates.
    I wonder if your preserved lemons could be used the same way.

  15. lovetocook
    January 24, 2010 at 7:43 pm

    Don’t forget the 1001 ways to use fresh lemon zest and juice from appetizers to mains to drinks to dessert. Flavour, color, no muss, no fuss, no calories, no fat, no salt. My couldn’t-live-without-it grocery item.

  16. Vox
    January 24, 2010 at 9:59 pm

    Preserved lemons are also great whirred into homemade shrimp cocktail sauce, along with horseradish, lemon juice, hot sauce and ketchup. They add a depth of flavour. I also like to add preserved lemons to roasted potatoes, along with parm and olive oil.

  17. Jan (Family Bites)
    January 25, 2010 at 7:21 am

    I’m not sure about preserved lemons, but I love lemons with and on almost everything. They are my “must-have” kitchen item.

  18. Dana McCauley
    January 25, 2010 at 12:00 pm

    Looking forward to your article! I love lemon and ‘get’ preserved lemons but never really thought about making them. Am I missing out? Will making preserved lemons enrich my life? SHould I stop at the store for a bag of citrus on the way home tonight? Life is filled so many questions now that I came over here.

  19. robyn
    January 25, 2010 at 3:14 pm

    Who cares about food?!??! These would be amazing in a martini!!! 🙂

  20. JulieVR
    January 25, 2010 at 3:16 pm


  21. the other Al
    January 25, 2010 at 4:35 pm

    Yeh!!!! A movie that promotes this incredible country of ours! I have done the cross Canada tour and stopped at a lot of the over sized statues along the way. Too fun. Julie you have to take that trip one day with your boys.
    Hey how come you roasted the lemons first? I thought preserved lemons were fresh with simple syrup poured over. Does it make a taste difference?

  22. JulieVR
    January 25, 2010 at 4:39 pm

    Preserved lemons are traditionally done in salt – and yes, fresh. Roasting them first softens them up quickly, so you don’t have to wait as long. Also boosts their flavour.

  23. Adam
    January 26, 2010 at 8:16 pm

    How long do you leave the lemons in the syrup? Do you just leave the jar on the counter? Sorry if these are obvious questions.

  24. JulieVR
    January 26, 2010 at 9:56 pm

    Adam – not obvious at all! I’m glad you asked. Keep them in the fridge – they’re ready to go right away, but they’ll keep for at least a month.

  25. Adam
    January 27, 2010 at 6:12 pm

    Thanks, Julie. I wondered because regular preserved lemons are supposed to sit for several weeks.

    How long do you roast them? At what temperature?

  26. JulieVR
    January 27, 2010 at 6:14 pm

    Yes – the time combined with salt is what preserves lemons the traditional way, softening them the way roasting them does. I roasted them for 20 minutes at 450F – longer if they have thicker skins.

  27. Simone
    April 25, 2011 at 8:52 pm

    Hi Julie, congratulations for your website. It is amazing and I’m loving to try your recipes. They are delicious!
    I only had problem with one recipe, and because of that I would you like to ask some advice.
    I tried to make this recipe, roasted them for 20 min at 450F, but I burned my baking dish. I think that maybe I put less sugar than I should, and then my lemons were bitter, the sugar melted and burned on my baking dish…
    How much of sugar do you add on the lemons before you roast them?


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