Preserved Lemons and…The Misery of Jogging

One of the blogs I follow is My San Francisco Kitchen.  Recently Kristianne wrote a sentence that stunned me.  She said, ‘I’m going out for a nice long run‘.  How are the words, ‘nice long run’ compatible?

I have had my second early morning session with the Jogging Group.  I should have had my third early morning with them this morning but I chose truancy instead.

Beautiful lemons

Beautiful lemons

Yesterday we met at the oval in the pitch black of pre-dawn and it was an incredibly cold and fresh start to the day.  I was wearing my Lulu Lemon leggings that now have a Lulu Lemon sports bra to go with them at a cost of $65.00.  I’ve now invested nearly $200 into my jogging career.

The group has two professional trainers.  One of them had a head-light strapped to his head that in the dark made him look like a large dancing fire-fly.  The other one has enrolled in a race where you run for 24 hours.  You see how many laps you can do on a running track in 24 hours.  He’ll probably need a light strapped to his head for that event too.  I don’t understand why anyone would want to do that.  24 Hours running around a track?  Wouldn’t that be like being a hamster in one of those wheels?

The lemons with their tops and bottoms cut off.

The lemons with their tops and bottoms cut off.

Anyway, the guy with the light on his head told us we would be running around the oval for the hour and I was pleased about that because it would be easier than the road running we did the week before.  We first had to do a 1-lap warm up and we followed the dancing light we could see in front of us.  Then we did some warm-up exercises and then he explained that we would be running four laps, four times with exercise breaks in between so the total distance run would be around 5kms.  Two kilometres shorter than the week before!  I was celebrating.

He took off saying we were doing the first three laps at a steady pace and then we’ll sprint the last lap.  We all followed him and I was instantly overtaken by everyone until I was that lone figure at the back of the pack.  There was no variation in pace between my first three laps and the sprint.

Then it was down onto the cold and damp grass to do 20 push-ups.  Now there’s a good joke for you.  But, I did them all.  I was last to finish as it took me so long but I did them.  It was at that time that I learned the guy with the light on his head trains army officers and runs boot camps.  From the way he barked out the instructions I wasn’t a bit surprised.

Preserved lemons with a few limes for decoration

Preserved lemons with a few limes for decoration

Then it was more running, this time two laps at a steady pace then two laps of sprinting.  The other trainer came and joined the lone figure at the back.  He asked me how I was after the first training session.  I said, ‘I haven’t been able to sit down on the toilet since.  My quads are too sore.  I need the support of one of those old-lady handrails nailed into the wall’.

‘Oh’, he said, ‘but you look so fit’.

Finally we had just four laps to go.  We were to do these at a comfortable pace.  All the fit-fiends took off and I was again, running my own race.  As they finished, the trainer would give them a high-five.  He held his hand out to me and I said, ‘No, I still have one lap to go’.  So they had all finished and I plowed on, all by myself, finishing the training session as a single.

A few of them said to me, ‘You’re doing very well’, which is the sort of thing I say to Alfie when he has plenty of room for improvement.

I would have loved to have joined the group this morning but in the night, every time I moved in the bed my muscles were so sore I’d be woken up.  I hardly slept a wink and I just couldn’t drag myself out of bed.

I wonder if there will be a day when I can say, ‘I’m just going out for a nice long run‘.

I am cooking a lot of comfort meals at the moment (for obvious reasons) and some of them call for preserved lemons.  They are so expensive to buy and now that lemons are in season I’ve decided to make my own.  These will be ready in about six weeks time which is perfect as we’ll be halfway through our winter with plenty more comfort cooking to do.  I also think these make a lovely gift or hostess gift.  Sadly, I’m without a lemon tree but if you have one you can make these for next-to-no cost.

Preserved lemons

Preserved lemons

Preserved Lemons

Makes:  2-3 medium-sized jars

Degree of Difficulty:   1/5

Cost:  Absolutely minimal if you have your own lemon tree.  Don’t have a lemon tree?  Just lean on a friend and ask for a few lemons.

  • 6 medium-sized lemons
  • a few bay leaves
  • 1 cup cooking salt
  • 500mls lemon juice (about another 6 lemons) approx – how much you need depends on size of your jars

Wash lemons and scrub well.

Slice the bottom and tops off each lemon so they sit nicely on a board then cut into quarters without cutting all the way through to the base.  Fill the lemon with salt and place in a sterilised jar.  Repeat until jars are full.

Add bay leaves and remaining salt.  Pour in lemon juice until jars are filled to the rim.

Put lids on jars then label with the date so you know when they’ll be ready – about 6 weeks.

Store in a cool, dark place like a wine cellar.   Don’t have a wine cellar?  Well perhaps the pantry.

When ready to use, take out portion of lemon required.  Rinse under running water.  Discard flesh then use skin as desired.





  1. Love, love, love preserved lemon, especially in Tagines and salad dressing. Don’t love the jogging so much. I’m hypermobile in my joints so jogging is a big no-no for me, It makes me collapse in a sprained, inflamed heap. So impressed with your effort though and that you finished all the laps – it reminds me a bit of this: but with “run all the laps” instead!.

  2. I’ve never heard of preserved lemons. Nor am I familiar with running, long or short.

  3. Good for you Charlie, I would be at the back of the pack with you if I were there, but I HATE running (actually my knees hate running), so I’ll never be there. If you ever wanna go for a bike ride give me a call (a casual bike ride).
    So the reason that I don’t use preserved lemons is because they’re too expensive to buy, but you’ve changed everything for me! I’m gonna be a lemon preserving mad women from now on!

  4. I admire you Charlie! Keep up the great work, I wish I was as motivated as you but I always blame my RA and it somewhat makes me feel better 😉

    I’ve made preserved lemons before and I love them. They are so good in everything especially in couscous with toasted almonds and golden sultanas. My mum used to make a lot of preserved lemons for her Indian lemon pickle. They are also great for nausea.

    Keep at it Charlie! You inspire me to get exercising ( though let me tell you how much exercise moving is!)


  5. I need to make a batch pronto. There is nowhere in town where I can buy preserved lemons…and they are such a fantastic addition to so many recipe. Thanks!!!

    PS…I’d take “but you look so fit” as a huge compliment 🙂

  6. Every time I start running again after taking a break or being injured I ask myself how I ever started because it hurts so much and what gets me through is the knowledge that it DOES get better. So I promise…it doesn’t seem like it now, but it WILL get better!

  7. I just bought the makings for preserved lemons as my last batch turned brownish. Not sure why as I sterilized the jar etc. But I do love them and find them so versatile. Thanks for sharing.

    Push ups, Charlie???? Again, I am in awe. Am going to the mat right now to see if I can manage even five!

  8. Oh I hate that… having to slam your bottom onto the toilet seat cause you can’t control your muscles. But seriously, good for you!

  9. I cannot run, so nice long run is an oxymoron for me. I love preserved lemons – though we do it a bit differently. Still, they are fabulous any which way.

  10. I never tried preserved lemon, and I am intrigued by the salt…interesting recipe Charlie.
    Now in regards to running, since I am “allergic” to exercise, I cannot be much of help 🙂
    Hope it gets better with time…enjoy your week!

  11. Oh my, you do have your struggles, but I commend you for going on and on (even though you were truant one such race). I’m not much of a runner, I just hate the way my brain rattles around in my head (yes, I just said that!).
    I tried making preserved lemons but I did them wrong because about a week later I was growing some strange organic matter from mars all over them, and they went straight into the bin. I’d love a jar of yours, and the bonus would be to meet you too!

  12. I know someone who does 24 hour runs, but at least these runs take place in stunning mountains/landscapes of the US!

  13. I wouldn’t have completed the first run let alone coming back for a second. Two out of 3 isn’t bad at all as far as I’m concerned. You need to go somewhere for a nice message and some pampering of those sore muscles. 🙂

    Beautiful jars … perhaps some day I’ll be inspired to make/use them in my cooking.

  14. I love preserved lemons! And I haven’t made any for quite awhile – I need to again. I have to say, that sure doesn’t sound like a running class for beginners! I’d hate to see what the advanced classes looked like.

  15. I know I’m sounding like a broken record (remember those?), but you really are amazing, Charlie. I’d be so proud of myself if I ever completed just one of your training sessions. And I know of no way the the words “nice long run” could ever be used any but a pejorative way.

  16. Oh, Charlie! I’m 100% with you… I can’t remember how many time I’ve started to run…and stopped. Too cold, too hot, too steep, no time… you name it!
    But of course, I have a super trendy outfit, including that thingy for the iPod that you put in your shoes… 😉
    Take care!

  17. A day off is fine, but you can’t give up until you show them all up Charlie! By now they all feel a bit sorry/patronising/superior to/amused by you and your struggles, so there are only two courses open to you: 1 drive by them during a training session in a top down convertible looking fabulous and incredibly rich/successful, whilst waving to all the little people and making them envy you…. Or 2 stick it out until you have kept up with them enough times that you have blended into the pack and then fake a family emergency/injury/doctors diagnosis that means you can bow out ‘regretfully’ and gracefully.
    I love the lemons, they add such a great flavour, but I’ve never made them myself. I’ll have to give it a try now you’ve made it look so easy 🙂 x

  18. I would totally be in the back with you! And this line made me laugh out loud, “which is the sort of thing I say to Alfie when he has plenty of room for improvement.”

  19. Love your description of the whole jogging machinery.
    I’m with you Charlie, I deeply dislike jogging , unfortunately it’s one of the best ways to stay fit (so unfair 🙂 )
    The pictures are so cute and the recipe is very interesting.

  20. Anyone with a lemon tree or friends with lemons, do make your own preserved ones! What a huge difference to the ones you buy. I have made them for about 4-5 years using a rather rough salt [I think it is kosher] with a few pepper corns thrown into the jars as well as the bay leaves . . . you honestly don’t have to use them exclusively for Moroccan/Tunisian dishes: they add terrific flavour to so many recipes! Actually I LOVE running, a couple of my heart valves are too lazy and create a fuss 🙂 !

  21. I am one of those weird people who enjoys running 🙂

  22. Oh Charlie that jogging sounds hideous. I think exercise needs to be sustainable not tortuous. You are such a lovely mum to put yourself through this in the dark of Winter.

    As for the preserved lemon I love it in dishes. I usually buy it at school fetes. It’s expensive but so worth it, especially if its homemade.

  23. Hhhmmm…I have seen r ed coordinator for these before, they’re always so pretty. I’ve never made them or used them, though. An aside: I can’t run, It hurts my knees terribly …but I am doing a thirty day ab challenge and another little exercise thingy I found on Pinterest. xo

  24. The preserved lemons look great. The jogging sounds like punishment. I’m wondering why you are doing it.

  25. I love preserved lemons and Charlie you can keep that running game to yourself

  26. Hehe I don’t think I could ever say that! but I do know joggers that absolutely love running-I’m just not one of them 😛

  27. I love your comment about not being able to sit down on the toilet. Just this week I downloaded the free app Couch to 5k in 9 weeks. Two runs later, a $200 pair of runners with “special” insoles and I am so sore I groan every time I get up not to mention the pain when I lower myself into a chair. I can never imagine saying a “nice long run” 🙂

  28. Never made preserved lemons but I’m intrigued.

  29. I take my hat off to you Charlie, I can’t even jog 300 meters without hyperventilating! Love love love preserved lemons, thanks for the tip, I’m down to my last jar from last time!

  30. Ok, I’ll preserve lemons exactly the way prescribed, Beautiful 🙂 Who wouldn’t accept that fabulous idea? 🙂 Now tell me where did you get the dark, woody, wonderful table top the lemon jars are sitting on?

  31. I have a great desire to run, but my body does not! 😉 Love the look of your preserved lemons.

  32. Sweet Posy Dreams says:

    Running, exercises, and push-ups for an hour? No thank you. Walking is more my speed! Good for you, though, that you are doing it.

  33. Nice and running NEVER go together. I really admire you going back for more, it sounds really hard core. I’m still buying my preserved lemons, I really should be making them. Thanks for the recipe. GG

  34. I bought a jar of preserved lemons for a recipe months ago and have only used them once. Kudos for making your own!

  35. Totally laughing at your use of the word “truancy”.. haven’t heard that for years! haha. Love preserved lemons, great use and even great for a gift!

  36. Charlie, I love reading your posts you always make me laugh out loud at least once! My sister feels the same way about exercise she says she dreads the thought of running, while she is running she feels terrible and after she is finished running she feels like collapsing so she does not quite like that whole experience. I say when life gives you lemons, add vodka and this is perfect little addition to a great refreshing cocktail on the balcony this summer. Take Care, BAM

  37. You are being a real trooper with this jogging commitment, and I think you were probably wise to take a morning off. I practice yoga, and I think I am probably encouraged to be a little kinder to myself. 🙂 But I really admire what you’re attempting to do. Soon you you probably will be able to say you’re gong out for a nice long run! Preserved lemons are a bit of a mystery to me, but I’m intrigued. I can’t think of a time I’ve had a recipe that calls for them. I have a tree, though, so I’d better figure this out! I love the look. 🙂 Hang in there. The investment in the jogging clothes needs to pay off. ox

  38. LOL you crack me up!! I am so jealous of your new investment, I wish I could afford some too waaa! I just need to bite the bullet and get myself some new Lulu wear 😉 Also, great idea about the jogging group – I totally need to join one of those too!

  39. I have been running for 4 years now and I am not half as fit as you, and I still never put nice and long in the same sentence. I always feel really good after my run, but hate getting up and going. This morning my running mate forgot to set his alarm and so I waited and then went alone. He wrote me several messages to say he was sorry but I thanked him profusely, because if I had known I was going to be alone, I would have never dragged my sorry butt out of bed at 5:50 am.
    I have been wanting to make preserved lemons for ages. Thank you for reminding me.

  40. I do love to run, but it has to be on my own terms. No races. No tracks. And solitude. It’s so peaceful. I find yoga the next day helps keep me from getting overly sore. I love these lemons. They look so delicious and I’ve never had them preserved before. Mmmm!

  41. Nah I don’t blame you, I never understood the running and early morning sport story. My husband keeps on telling me how refreshing and well doing it is for the body and soul but I just havn’t found that feeling yet.
    My first Italian lemons are growing on our tree, they have been growing for months now so I think so they should be ready soon to make some quality preserves such as yours. =)

  42. Way to go on the run!

  43. Haha yes, I’ve been choosing truancy over exercise on many occasions this year! Need to get back into exercise again… :/

  44. Unfortunately I wouldn’t even be in the back with you, but I’d be on the sidelines cheering you on and handing you some water as you passed by. I made preserved lemons in April…the lemon juice has turned clear and they are now ready to use.

  45. You are so funny! Not being able to sit down on the toilet is valid grounds for abandoning the army camp for one morning.

  46. Haha, awww. I hate running as much as or more than you. My husband LOVES running and on the days when he can’t do it, he’s in a foul foul mood.

  47. I am so surprised you did a second session!! Really!!! Are you crazy, I wouldn’t have let on I had a lap to go either, I would have taken the hi 5 and toddled home to bed!

    You are doing well!

  48. I am dying to try this.

  49. Thank you for this wonderful recipe! i happen to have fresh lemons from a tree from my neighbours. She has this beautiful & well scented lemon tree in her conservatory. Perfect for me! The uses are endless, I think! Thanks, Charlie!

    My husband startes to run too. He is coached by a runner & it is to make it finally to run 5 km. My hubby loves it & does it 3x/week with other runners in his group! maybe, those runners in your group are doing it too maniacly!

  50. Hi Charlie,
    This is such a great idea of preserving lemons and will make a great gift too!
    I am not much of a runner, I like to do classes at the gym or play tennis.

  51. I’m sooo with you on this, Charlie. The words nice & long run never, ever belong in the same sentence! I was just out admiring the lemons on my tree this morning! I love having a fridge full of jars of preserved lemons.

  52. Loved reading this blog!!!! Gave me a good laugh especially the running references, I’ve been trying to get into running, slow slow slow, but am planning to persevere!!! However, after reading your blog and AbsolutelyJas, I was inspired again to make my own preserved lemons as we had a crop on our Meyer lemon tree. Am happy, they look pretty and I can hardly wait to taste them!!! Looking forward to your next blog!!

  53. I love preserved lemons but honestly all I can think of is, “I cant sit on the toilet”.

    I was laughing out loud and John came in to see what was so funny. I have been in that situation and my heart goes out to you. You don’t need to go from slack to fit overnight, do you? Trying to compete with people like that would kill me.

  54. I so wish I could want to go out for a nice long run but I can barely drag myself out! making your own preserved lemons is such a clever idea! I’m going to have to try this!

  55. Oh Charlie, I wish you could come to my running group! We always have people in various stages around the oval and some people usually do a lap less than others if they are less experienced. I have never had to do 20 push ups either!

  56. I too go out for nice long runs, but they’re never quite like what you are describing Charlie. 😉

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