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Pickled Limes

12 Jan

My passion for pickled foods started with chilli. I was never very good at eating hot food but I could see that people could be very passionate about hot food. So I went out to teach myself to enjoy the good spice. During the journey I found pickled limes(with chilli) at an Indian restaurant and instantly fell in love. I started buying pickled limes from the supermarket and eating them with cheese and crackers (a taste combination I highly recommend). One day I saw limes on sale and thought I’d take a stab at making my own. I was successful and now anytime I see limes on sale I grab a bag and pickled them up with various flavours like rosemary, sage, thyme while ALWAYS making sure there’s a liberal dose of chilli’s.

Do you know the difference between pickling and preserving? Pretty simple, pickling something is just preserving it in brine (salt).

As always, to get started I organised my ingredients. Today I decided to go with rosemary, mainly because it’s growing great in my garden at the moment. I picked up 4 limes for $3 so given that I already I had the salt and the rosemary and chillis are from my garden this cost me a little over $6. As you’ll see I ended up using 1 big jar and 2 smaller mustard jars, all of which I boil in water for about 15min to sterilise.

While the jars are sterilising I chop up the ingredients. The limes I divvy up between slices for pickling and halves for using the juice. The chilli’s I chop in half and gently smash, the rosemary I leave as is.

Once the jars are sterilised it’s simply a matter of shoving the lime slices into the jars interspersed with chilli’s and rosemary twigs. I add a good pinch of rock salt between each level of limes. I don’t think you can overdo the salt at least I haven’t yet, but you don’t need to go nuts.

When the jar is full I squeeze in at least one lime depending on the size of the jar. Normally about 1/3 of the jar is enough. Then I top it up with freshly boiled water and give it a shake to get the bubbles out. Before I put the lid on I put a piece of squeezed lime skin side up on top. This keeps the slices submerged and covers everything (I discard it when I eat the limes). I try and top the liquid up right to the top before putting the lid on.

The last step is to clean it out and submerge the jars in boiling water for about 5min. Really not sure what this does but it’s a common step I’ve read with all canning / preserving / pickling techniques.

That’s it. Let it sit for 2 – 3 months (mine have been fine up to about 6 – 8 months) and enjoy.

Tip though, you eat the skin not the flesh. The flesh will taste horrible like really salty off lime. Remove the lime slice, skim the flesh off and chop up the skin. Use it as a side pickle for an Indian curry or as I said before, eat it with cheese and crackers.

Last tip, the process is exactly the same for lemons. I make those up and use them in Moroccan dishes like preserved lemon and chicken tagine and olives!!

Keep in mind that it’s very important to use sterile equipment, jars and of course your hands. The salt will go along way to keeping the bugs at bay but you need to be careful. If when you open the jars it doesn’t smell or taste right, don’t eat it. It’s not worth the risk to get ill (or worse) from botulism.

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