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- What are Preserved Lemons?
- How to Make Preserved Lemons
- Baker’s Percentage Chart
- Tools Needed
- Ingredients Needed
- How to Make Preserved Lemon & Rosemary Sourdough Bread
- How to Store:
- Preserved Lemon & Rosemary Sourdough Bread
- Other Recipes You Might Like:
Preserved lemons and woodsy rosemary perfume this flavorful Preserved Lemon and Rosemary Sourdough Bread.
The bright flavor of preserved lemons shines in this rustic loaf that helps fill the void of sunshine in the deep winter. It’s that time of year that I crave citrus; luckily, preserved lemons highlight the beauty of seasonal citrus. Plus, the rosemary adds warmth and coziness to the bright loaf.
I wasn’t satisfied with only using lemon zest in this sourdough during recipe testing. The lemon flavor continually got lost amidst the potent rosemary. Instead, using preserved lemons packs a punch of lemon flavor that infuses throughout.
The salty and tangy lemons are perfect for the most lemon flavor in this sourdough, so you get small bits of lemon in every bite. As the loaf bakes, your home will fill up with the intoxicating aroma of lemons and rosemary.
👉 For other sourdough bread recipes, you may enjoy this Black Sesame Sourdough Bread, Buckwheat Sourdough with Pumpkin Seeds, Calabrian Chili and Honey Sourdough Bread, Spelt Sourdough Bread, or my My Everyday Sourdough Bread Recipe.
What are Preserved Lemons?
Preserved lemons are cured whole lemons in a salty brine.
The only ingredients are typically salt and lemons with their juices. However, aromatics are sometimes added to the brine for extra flavor. The aromatics may include black peppercorns, dried chili peppers, bay leaves, coriander seeds, etc.
Preserved lemons are often found in Moroccan, North African, and Middle Eastern cuisines. Their distinctive flavor is used in popular dishes like tagines, salads, stews, etc.
They have a bright, citrus flavor with a hint of umami. Naturally, they’re slightly tangy and salty, but the acidity of the lemons mellows out over time and creates an almost floral citrus aroma and bite.
How to Make Preserved Lemons
You can purchase preserved lemons, but making your own is much more economical and easy! They take about a month to cure, but they’re worth the wait.
The only ingredients you need are lemons and salt. I prefer using Meyer lemons for their soft skins, and sweeter tangerine/yuzu-like flavor, but you can also use conventional lemons. Meyer lemons are typically in season in the winter months and can be found in most well-stocked grocery stores.
To make preserved lemons:
- Sterilize a quart-sized canning jar and lid in boiling water for 10 minutes and dry on a wire rack with towels underneath.
- Wash, scrub, and dry 7-8 lemons. Then, slice the lemons from one end into quarters without slicing entirely through the lemon. Fill each lemon with a tablespoon of Kosher salt.
- Put a tablespoon of Kosher salt into the bottom of the sterilized canning jar. Then, stuff the jar full of salted lemons. I use a cocktail muddler to push down the lemons. This way, they squeeze out their juices, and you can fit more into the jar.
- Once the jar is full, ensure the lemons are completely submerged in lemon juice. If not, add freshly squeezed lemon juice to top off the jars (don’t use bottled or concentrated lemon juice). Sprinkle more Kosher salt on top.
- Twist on the lid and turn the jar upside down once. Set the jar on your countertop for a week and turn it upside down once every day. After a week, move the jar to your refrigerator to cure for at least 3 weeks or until the peels soften and become tender.
Additionally, for added flavors, you can add spices like coriander, dried chiles, black peppercorns, bay leaves, etc., with the lemons.
How to Store Preserved Lemons
Stored in the refrigerator, preserved lemons can last at least six months. The salty and acidic environment hinders bad bacteria growth.
However, if you ever see mold or the lemons smell off, discard them.
I use my preserved lemons quickly, so I’ve never used any over a year old!
How to Eat Preserved Lemons
To eat, only use the peel of the preserved lemon. Wash the brine from the lemons and discard the insides.
Slice or chop the peel and add to soups, tagines, pasta, salads, and cocktails, on top of roasted vegetables, or blend into yogurt with olive oil for a creamy, lemony dip or other great recipes.
Use preserved lemons whenever you want a fresh pop of bright lemon to a dish. Once you start using them, you’ll find so many delicious ways to employ them!
Baker’s Percentage Chart
I include a baker’s percentage chart to scale a recipe up or down easily. With baker’s percentages, the total weight of all flour in the recipe is 100%.
I also include the prefermented flour from the levain in this flour weight. Finally, I note the ingredients proportionally to the total weight of flour (in this case, 430g). That’s why the percentages below will add up to over 100%.
If you want to learn more, the King Arthur website has a more detailed reference page on why and how baker’s percentages are calculated.
|Bread Flour||330 grams (includes 30g for levain*)||76.7%|
|Whole Wheat Flour||100 grams||23.3%|
|Sea Salt||8 grams||1.9%|
|Water||359 grams (includes 30g for levain)||83.5%|
|One preserved lemon||About 38 grams||8.8%|
|Fresh rosemary||5 grams||1.2%|
|Sourdough starter||30 grams (all for levain)||7%|
*Note: If you do not build a levain, use about 80-90g sourdough starter instead.
View my Sourdough Tools and Equipment guide for a complete list of my favorite bread-baking tools.
- Dutch Oven
- Baking Scale
- Bread Lame
- Bench Scraper
- Banneton Proofing Basket
- Optional: Brød and Taylor Folding Bread Proofer
- This folding proofing box by Brød & Taylor is a game changer to keep your sourdough starter and doughs at the perfect temperature while proofing.
- The proofer folds up easily, includes a humidity tray, is multifunctional, and can even be a slow cooker.
See below for more information, recommendations, and possible substitutes.
- Bread Flour
- Whole Wheat Flour
- Sourdough Starter
- Sea Salt
- Preserved Lemons
- The preserved lemons pack so much citrusy flavor in small bites throughout the loaf. You only use the peel of preserved lemons in recipes.
- If you’re making preserved lemons, try to use Meyer lemons if you can find them.
- Fresh Rosemary
- I always prefer fresh herbs in baking for the best flavor, like in these Sourdough Dinner Rolls with Rosemary. If you don’t have fresh rosemary, use half the amount in dried rosemary.
- Furthermore, in this recipe, you can substitute the rosemary equally with another woodsy herb like thyme or sage.
How to Make Preserved Lemon & Rosemary Sourdough Bread
Follow this visual and detailed guide to help you make this delicious loaf.
1. Make the Levain:
Mix 30g sourdough starter, 30g bread flour, and 30g water in an empty jar to build your levain.
Cover and set it in a warm location (between 75-80ºF) for about five hours until it’s bubbly and ripe. The levain should at least double in size during this time.
Note: Alternatively, skip this step and use 90 grams of active sourdough starter in the recipe.
About one hour before the levain is ripe, mix 300g of bread flour and 100g of whole wheat flour in a mixing bowl.
Make a well in the center of the bowl and pour 319 grams of warm water into the bowl.
Use your hands, a silicone spatula, or a flexible bench scraper to mix the flours and water until hydrated. The dough will be quite sticky and stiff and it’s okay if some floury spots remain.
Cover the bowl and set it aside in a warm location until the levain is ready.
3. Add Levain:
When the levain is bubbly and ripe, add the levain.
Use your hands to dimple the levain into the dough. Then, stretch and fold the dough onto itself for a few minutes until you thoroughly incorporate the levain into the dough.
To stretch and fold:
- Use your hand as pincers to pull up a portion of the dough.
- Lift the dough to stretch it, then fold it down in the middle of the bowl.
- Rotate the bowl and repeat this motion.
Cover the bowl and rest it in a warm location for 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes, sprinkle 8 grams of sea salt and 10 grams of water onto the dough.
Then, dimple in the sea salt and begin mixing. Stretch and fold the dough for about 5 minutes.
Cover the bowl and rest for 30 minutes.
5. Bulk Fermentation:
At 78ºF, bulk fermentation (first proof) takes about 4.5-5 hours. Most of bulk fermentation is resting, but it also includes the lemon and rosemary inclusions and a few coil folds spaced throughout the proofing. These steps are detailed below.
If your dough and environment are colder, bulk fermentation will take longer. Conversely, in warmer conditions, bulk fermentation will be faster.
Note: An instant-read thermometer like the Thermapen is a great tool to check your dough temperature throughout bulk fermentation.
Inclusions and Coil Folds
After the 30-minute rest, spread a quarter of the chopped preserved lemons and a quarter of the rosemary on top of the dough.
Stretch and fold once, folding the dough on top of the inclusions. Then, spread another quarter of the lemons and rosemary on top and repeat with another stretch and fold. Repeat this two more times for four folds in total.
After four folds with all the inclusions added, rest another 30 minutes.
Then, use wet hands to perform at least three coil folds spaced 30 minutes apart.
The coil folds will continue to strengthen the dough. The dough should spread some in between folds. If the dough is still very weak after the last fold, you may need to add more folds.
The dough rests for the remainder of time until shaping.
Bulk fermentation is complete when the dough rises about 50%, feels full of air, and there are visible bubbles on top of and around the dough.
In addition, I stitch this dough in the banneton to add extra strength since it can still be quite slack.
Cover and rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.
7. Overnight Proof:
With the banneton covered, place it in a cold refrigerator overnight and up to 48 hours.
The overnight proof, or retard, will give additional flavor to the dough and slow down fermentation. Additionally, the bread will become sourer the longer it proofs.
8. Score & Bake:
Place an empty dutch oven into the oven and preheat it to 500ºF (260ºC) for an hour.
After an hour, remove the cold dough from the refrigerator and turn it out onto a small piece of parchment paper.
Then, score the dough using a sharp bread lame.
I usually score with one long slash for a batard (oval). For a boule (round), score the dough with a cross pattern in the center of the dough or another design. The score should be about ¼”-½” deep. If interested, I often share scoring videos on my Instagram.
Carefully place the scored dough with parchment into the dutch oven and immediately cover it with the lid.
Bake at 500ºF (260ºC) for 20 minutes.
Remove the lid, turn the oven down to 450ºF (232ºC), and bake with the lid off for 15 minutes until the crust is dark brown.
Cool on a wire rack for at least an hour before slicing.
Finally, enjoy cutting into this aromatic loaf!
This loaf pairs particularly well dipped into soups and stews. Additionally, creamy spreads like cream cheese, mascarpone, and butter go well with the bread.
How to Store:
Store sourdough bread cut side down once sliced. This helps the loaf retain moisture so it doesn’t dry out and become stale.
Then, wrap the loaf in a tea towel and place it in a bread bag, bread box, or brown paper bag, where it will stay fresh for about three days. After a few days, you may need to reheat or toast slices.
You can freeze sourdough bread by cutting slices and placing them in a freezer-safe bag where it will keep for months. To thaw, reheat the frozen slices in a toaster oven, toaster, or oven.
Can I use another herb than rosemary?
Yes, feel free to use an equal amount of a woodsy herb like sage or thyme.
Can I use dried rosemary?
Yes, use half the amount of dried rosemary in the recipe.
How much rosemary should you add to sourdough?
A tablespoon of fresh rosemary infuses sourdough bread with rosemary flavor throughout. However, depending on your taste preferences, you can add more or less rosemary. For dried rosemary, use half the amount.
Can I add other inclusions to this loaf?
Sure, olives or garlic would also go well in this loaf!
What to eat with rosemary sourdough bread?
Lemon and rosemary sourdough bread is great smeared in butter or another creamy topping, dipped into stews or soups, or eaten with other hearty meals. Wintertime is a great time to enjoy this aromatic and citrusy bread.
Preserved Lemon & Rosemary Sourdough Bread
- Make the Levain:In a clean jar, mix the sourdough starter, bread flour, and water for the levain.Cover and set in a warm location (between 75-80ºF) for about five hours until doubled and bubbly.30 grams Sourdough Starter, 30 grams Bread Flour, 30 grams Water
- Autolyse:An hour before the levain is ready, start autolyse. In a mixing bowl, mix together the bread and whole wheat flours.Form a well in the center of the flour and pour 319 grams of warm water.Mix together the flour and water just until it comes together and there are minimal dry bits of flour left.Cover and rest in a warm location for at least an hour until the levain is ready.300 grams Bread Flour, 100 grams Whole Wheat Flour, 329 grams Water
- Add Levain, Salt, and Mix:Add all of the levain into the bowl and dimple it into the dough. Then, stretch and fold the dough upon itself for a few minutes to incorporate.Cover and rest in a warm location for 30 minutes.Sprinkle 8 grams of sea salt on top with 10 grams of water. Dimple the salt and water into the dough. Stretch and fold the dough upon itself for 5-7 minutes until thoroughly mixed. At the end of mixing, the dough will be smooth, you should not feel any individual salt granules between your fingers, and the dough will be more extensible.Cover and rest in a warm location for 30 minutes.Levain, 8 grams Sea Salt
- Bulk Fermentation (Inclusions & Coil Folds):At 78ºF (26ºC), bulk fermentation for this dough typically takes about 4.5-5 hours.After the 30-minute rest, sprinkle a quarter of the chopped preserved lemon and a quarter of the chopped rosemary on top of the dough. Stretch and fold the dough onto itself once. Repeat this step three more times, adding all of the inclusions to the dough and folding the dough onto itself. Rest 30 minutes.Perform at least three coil folds separated by 30 minutes each. The dough rests in bulk fermentation for the remainder of the time.At the end of bulk fermentation, the dough should be smooth and rounded, feel full of air, have visible bubbles, and should wobble/jiggle if shaken. The dough should almost double in size.1 TBS Fresh Rosemary, 1 Preserved Lemon
- Shape:Lightly flour the top of the dough and the counter. Gently loosen the dough from the sides of the mixing bowl and turn the dough out onto the counter.With the help of a bench scraper, shape the dough into a batard (oval) or boule (round).Lift it up and place it into a floured banneton.Stitch the dough in the banneton if it is still loose or slack.Cover and rest for 30 minutes.
- Cold Overnight Proof:Place the covered banneton into a cold refrigerator to proof overnight and for up to 48 hours.
- Bake:Place the empty dutch oven with lid in the oven and preheat for an hour at 500°F (260ºC).Once preheated, remove the banneton from the refrigerator and turn the dough out onto a piece of parchment paper. Score the dough with a sharp bread lame about ¼-½" deep.Transfer the scored dough to the dutch oven and cover it with the lid.Bake at 500°F (260ºC) for 20 minutes. Remove the lid, lower the oven temperature to 450ºF (232ºC) and bake for 15 minutes with the lid off.Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack for at least an hour before slicing.Slice and enjoy!
- Try to keep the dough at a constant, warm temperature (between 75-80ºF) as much as possible throughout fermentation. I use the Brød and Taylor bread proofer to keep my dough at a constant 78ºF. If your dough and environment are cooler, bulk fermentation will take longer. Conversely, in warmer conditions, the dough will ferment faster.
- Read my guide above for a detailed walkthrough with photos and videos for shaping, scoring, and baking this bread.