Lime Pickle

Good morning everyone,

I began making Indian style pickle when I returned from a six month stay in India and could not find them on the shelves in Whitehorse.  I am now living in Toronto, where premade pickle is readily available at any of the dozens of Indian markets in Etobicoke but I still prefer to make them myself.

They are freaking amazing.  So tart, so hot, so full of flavour and the only thing that can entice me to eat parantha (recipe coming soon).  I have started making these at home after the host unit should me the basic recipe for ginger pickle.  The other pickles I make have all been inspired by relatives of the host unit and a couple of friendly dhaba owners.

I’m in heaven and luckily for Karan, with these pickles around, parantha will be served in our home (not daily though, sorry dude, not sorry). These pickles aren’t just for adding flavour to parantha, you can serve them with every meal where you just want to kick it up a notch.This is a time consuming process but well worth the wait.  Also, you may need to source some of the ingredients at a local Indian market.  If some of the ingredients are not available where you live (i.e. Whitehorse, Amazon is a wonderful tool!).  I used to have friends traveling through Vancouver, bring me items from Indian shops there.  You got to love awesome friends.  These same awesome friends were also often our taste testers so I guess, in a way, they were being repaid for their transportation services.

There are as many different recipes for pickle as there are people who make it.  People have their own pickling masalas that seem to be passed down in families.  Feel free to experiment with other pickling spices or more or less chili.  Let me know how your experiments go!

Lime Pickle

This recipe will make a small batch of about 1 kg of lime pickle.

Ingredients

14 – 15 limes
1 tbls black salt (kala namak, a musky salt used in India and available in Indian markets)
5 tbls coarse sea salt
1/2 tsp asafoetida (also known as hing, available in Indian markets)
4 tbsp crushed chili peppers
1 1/2 tbsp anise seed
3 cinnamon sticks, about 4″ long each, broken in half
1 cup lime juice
2 tsp black cumin (NOT the same as regular cumin, available in Indian markets)

Method

In India, most types of pickle are cured in jars in the sun.  However, after a bit of research, there is an option for North American kitchens using the lowest heat setting on your oven.

Wash and dry the limes, being careful to remove any stickers from them.  Cut each in half across the middle and then in half again, producing quarters of each lime.  Spread the limes evenly on a baking sheet, rind side down.  Set your oven to the lowest setting (170F on most ovens here or better yet, the “keep warm” setting if you have it).  Place the limes in the oven, leaving the door ajar slightly.  Let the limes cure in this way for about 45 minutes.

Remove the limes to a large casserole pan.  Add the salts and stir thoroughly.  Cover the casserole with some cheesecloth or a clean piece of muslin and let sit overnight.  Now for the next seven days, each morning (or whatever consistent time you choose), remove the cheesecloth and stir the pickle.  Preheat the oven again to the lowest setting and cure the pickles for about 45 minutes with the door slightly ajar.  Cover the pan again with cheesecloth and allow to sit overnight.

On the seventh day stir in all of the other pickling spices.  Transfer the cured pickles with spices into wide mouth, opaque glass jars.  It’s important to use glass because the pickles are not yet fully cured and will need more time in your oven.  Cover the jars with cheesecloth or muslin.

Following the curing process again for the next three weeks and you have your pickle!  When this process is done, screw the lids onto the jars and store in a cool, dry place.  These pickles will last for years (if you can resist eating them that long, that is).

If you are lucky enough to have a warm, sunny environment (like I do now near Toronto in April through September),  you can use the sun cure method.  If you are curing them outside, be sure to protect the jars from rain (I place the jars on the deck and put a glass outdoor table over them to protect them).  Instead of curing your limes in the oven:

  • After cutting your limes, pack them into clear, wide mouth jars, no too tightly.
  • Day one:  cover the jars with cheesecloth or muslin and place the jars in direct sunlight.  The same evening, distribute the salts evenly between the jars and stir well.
  • Days two to seven:  uncover the jars, stir the lime mixture, recover and allow the jars to sit in the sun.
  • Day seven:  Add the remaining pickling ingredients evenly among the jars.
  • Days eight through twenty – eight: uncover the jars, stir the lime mixture, recover and allow the jars to sit in the sun.
  • Day 29:  Enjoy your pickles!

Tips

Choose medium sized fresh limes that are firm but not blemished.

Do not use table salt or iodized salt.  It will not produce the same result.

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