Yabbit's Adventures With Homemade Lemon Pickle
I first heard of Indian pickles when reading Arundhati Roy's "The God of Small Things." In the book the grandmother makes and sells homemade pickles of different kinds, and I just knew that lime pickle and I would be good friends. I was right. When we finally got an Asian supermarket here in my city a few years back, it became one of my standard condiments. But at nearly 4 Euros for a jar holding about a cup and a half, Patak's is expensive!
Three months or so ago I posted a link to a blog called Indian Food Rocks. I had come across it looking for something else. I discovered her recipe for Oil-free Lemon Pickle made the oldfashioned way, by setting the jar of spices and lemon in the sun. You can see the recipe here: http://www.indianfoodrocks.com/2006/05/lemon-pickle-without-oil-picture.html
Sun, we have, at least in the summer months! So I put up half a dozen lemons in salt and spices, even though I had no hing nor any access to it at that time. I didn't know if the lack of hing would ruin the recipe, but I decided to go for it anyway. Losing a few lemons and spices wasn't going to put me away, even if it didn't work. The recipe called for setting it in the sun daily for 8 weeks or so, stirring or shaking the jar every day to move the salt and acids around and avoid mold.
A couple of weeks ago Storm sent me some hing. And in wandering among several Indian-food blogs, I saw that often more spices are added half-way through the sunning process. And that for many bloggers, a few days to two weeks is enough for the whole process. So a couple of days ago I decided to heat the pickle on the stove and add some hing. I also decided to put it in a smaller jar, since it was in a gallon one and the lemons had collapsed down a good deal.
Well, I added the hing, boiled the mixture for about 10 minutes on the stove, and poured it hot into a clean, dry jar, about a quart or so. It was a bit too full, so the jar proceeded to seal itself. And I played merrie hell getting it open! I couldn't ask DH to help me, so I had to slip a knife point under the edge of the lid and kind of pry at it all the way around until it gave up and let me in.
Results: Very delicious, but too salty! I know the salt acts as a preservative but I think in future I will cut back a little bit. Several blogs say you don't have to keep it in the sun, just in "a warm place" so I think that in US homes with central heating, you could keep it near the stove, or set it by the pilot light of your water heater, ETA: One blogger recommends setting it by a central-heating vent, and it would cure. Manisha (owner of the IFR blog) admits to making it on the stove as well but says she likes the sun-cured one better. OK, I can accept that--but I think it could be made in the slow cooker on Low for 12 to 24 hours with satisfactory results. Also I will cut my pieces smaller, she said eighths so that's what I did, but our lemons here are awfully big and the resulting chunks I got are kind of heavy for serving.
I used smoky paprika combined with cayenne since I didn't have deggi mirch or good chilli peppers, and it gave a nice flavour.
When I can get some limes, I will try her lime pickle with some ginger. We don't have fresh jalapeños here so I'll have to try dried red chillis and hope for the best.
I will leave you know!
I think I would have loved pickle as a kid. I always preferred salty, spicey and sour to sweet, from small. I had to be watched as a toddler or I would eat mustard out of the jar. And you know what a good emetic mustard is!! But it never cured me.
I was the same way and used to eat lemons like they were oranges. Loved sour, but wasn't fond of hot and spicy until I grew up. Whenever I use mustard I always put a little in my hand and eat it under the guise of trying get that water out that you always get with that first squirt. :)
gotta try me some mango pickle, for reals... any specific brand you guys recommend or you make your own?