Lemons, you ask? Can you really ferment a citrus fruit? And with all that salt, will it taste ok? The answer is absolutely YES! Fermented lemons are a traditional food in the Middle East, and are delicious accents for many foods.
We live in the high mountains an hour outside of Las Vegas, Nevada. Even though it’s HOT in Las Vegas, it is actually much cooler where we are. Luckily, I have lots of friends with lemon trees down in town, so each winter I usually get a good-sized box or bag full of fresh lemons!
When I am able to obtain a great amount of any kind of fruit or vegetable, one of my favorite things to do is to ferment them for later use. Our family then gets to use these wonderful lemons for months, plus we reap the health benefits of all the probiotic goodness in the ferment too! Win-Win!
And MINT? Yes! Mints, such as peppermint and spearmint, make wonderful complements to your lemons! I’ve included some great ideas for how to use your fermented Lemons & Mint below!
How to Make Fermented Lemons with Mint
The Perfect Ferment for the Holidays!
Fermenting lemons and other citrus is a little different than fermenting your typical vegetables. This is because of the higher acid and sugar content in the fruit. I always add a bit more salt in my fermented citrus fruits than in other recipes to be sure the lemons ferment perfectly!
The typical amount of salt I personally use to ferment most vegetables is 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoon salt to a quart size Mason jar. I don’t make a brine. Instead, I get all my veggies and spices packed into the jar, then add the water to within an inch and a half of the top, then add the salt. However, with lemons, I like to add some additional salt to offset the very high acid content.
Since I use the finest grains of Himalayan salt I can find, it dissolves perfectly and quickly, and I don’t need to take the extra step to make brine. See how easy this is?
A Fermented Lemon with Mint Recipe
Tools You’ll Need:
A Mason jar, quart size, wide mouth
A Fermentools Starter Kit
About 5 medium lemons per quart jar
1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons Himalayan salt per quart Mason jar.
Sprigs of fresh Mint leaves—peppermint, spearmint, or both
Any other spices you’d like to add. Some cinnamon chips and/or black pepper go nicely with this recipe but are not necessary.
Slice up your lemons. I like to keep them between 1/8 inch and 1/4 inch thick at most, as I’ve found they ferment best this way.
- Place the lemon slices in the jar.
- Add the mint leaves. You can add the lemons and mint in layers if you like, but I don’t bother as it doesn’t really make a difference in the taste.
- Next, add your salt and water. You can give it a little shake if you want (with the lid on, of course), but if you’re using very finely ground salt, you don’t need to bother with this. The salt dissolves just fine without doing much of anything.
- Weigh down the lemons & mint so they are completely submerged in the brine.
- Place your airlock system on the jar, and set aside in an undisturbed area. I just put mine on my kitchen windowsill, as it receives indirect sun for just moments a day. But any place that is not blasted with sunlight will do.
Other Things to Consider
Keep in mind the warmer the temperature of the room/area, the more quickly your ferment will process.
After two to three weeks, your lemons will be ready! I have found lemons take a bit longer to ferment than other types of vegetables/fruits.
Use a plastic lid to cap your Mason jar for storage, as the acid from the lemons will corrode typical metal lids. Store your jar of lemons and mint in the refrigerator or another cool storage area for later use. My fermented lemons have lasted up to six months in the refrigerator.
Ways to Use Your Fermented Lemons and Mint
Mmmmm…..Lemons and Mint with a nice salty tang! There are many ways to use these delicious preserved lemons!
The lemons are delicious in cooked rice or quinoa dishes, with a bit of black pepper. Just slice them up into bits and stir into the cooked grains. You can add a little butter, too if you like. Yummy!
Use them as a delicious topping for fish! You can cook the fish with the lemons right on top, adding a hint of minty lemon to the dish—or just use them as a wonderful garnish on the side.
I love fermented lemons and mint in yogurt! Just cut them as small as you like, and use them as a tangy-minty topping on your yogurt! Isn’t this just a great way to get extra natural probiotics into your diet?
For more ideas on spicing your fermented lemons, take a look at these variations.
A Few Final Thoughts
Fermented Lemons and Mint are so very scrumptious, and I know you’ll love them! If you end up with lots of lemons this winter season, try adding some mint to them. You’ll have a wonderful blend of lemon and mint—two complementary flavors that are perfect for your holiday cooking adventures!
For other recipes with fermented citrus, check out our Salt Preserved Lemons, Fermented Oranges, and Salt Preserved Limes.
Heidi Villegas is a writer at Healing Harvest Homestead and loves sharing her experiments with the world. She passionately studies herbalism and traditional skills, using her pioneer ancestry as a foundation. Heidi loves her animals, gardens, and making things herself. She became interested in fermentation after experimenting with making her own fermented foods and realizing the health power they have! Heidi lives off-grid with her husband, horses, goats, chickens, turkeys, ducks, cats, and dogs on a small homestead in the Mojave Desert.