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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 love preserved lemon, but YES, it is salty.  I usually use about a teaspoon in an entire recipe as a more flavorful salt replacement.  I know that's not the 'traditional' use, but it's great.

I also have a sweet lime pickle and spicy mango pickle in the fridge.  I've never been courageous enough to try to make my own. 

Thanks for the blog link!

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I fell in love with pickle when I went to India a couple of years ago and had it with breakfast.  I've had hot lime and sweet lime pickle and love it.  Currently in my fridge is Punjab hot mango pickle and hot chili pickle (interestingly this uses extra virgin olive oil).    The ready made pickles I buy at the Indian market here are very very salty and greasy, which is why a little goes a long way.

One of these days I'll be adventurous and make some. 

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I will warn you, Tweets: this stuff is seeerrrriously addictive! As in spread it on a rice cracker and nosh it justlikethat.

Surfing around on some Indian cooking blogs (and there are so many!) one gent makes lime pickle with red chilli, so jalapeños won't be an obstacle.

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Have you tried apple pickle?
My mom makes these, it's a variation on mango pickle.
I did a google search, and vegweb popped right up =)
http://vegweb.com/index.php?topic=8595.0
I actually prefer this over lemon. I dunno why, I think I like a bit of bite.

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Have you tried apple pickle?
My mom makes these, it's a variation on mango pickle.
I did a google search, and vegweb popped right up =)
http://vegweb.com/index.php?topic=8595.0
I actually prefer this over lemon. I dunno why, I think I like a bit of bite.

Thanks for the heads-up, GW!! I will definitely try that!
I am very interested in trying to cook Indian pickles in the slow-cooker. I know it wouldn't stick and burn and you wouldn't have to sit on top of it checking. If I only make a small amount I think I won't have to worry about steam/water getting in it. I'll probably eat it up too fast!!

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Dag nabbit!  I went to a roadside produce stand a couple of days ago and there was a huge bag of lemons, but I couldn't remember why I wanted lemons.  It was to try to make lemon pickles!  I happen to have a lot of apples in my refrigerator, though.  Maybe I'll try making apple pickles.

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And today I'm experimenting with a recipe for Lime Pickle, made in the slow cooker because a) Autumn has started and the sun has moved and b) we don't have heating vents etc. to cure it by. If it works, I'll post it! Unfortunately you can't get fresh chilis or jalapeños here, and the canned stuff we get from Mexico has no real spice to it at all, so I used dried. Sigh.

(Do they ever dry jalapeños? As far as I know I've never seen them but fresh.)

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OK, I'm back. I made the lime pickle yesterday. I had to fuse and adapt a few recipes I found online and rewrite it to suit my needs.
I have to admit, I was heavily predisposed to think little of it, since I cooked it in the slow cooker. But I tasted it after it was cooked and had chilled for 36 hours, and then tasted a spoonful from a jar of Patak's lime pickle I still have in the fridge.
Mine is just as good.
It would be even better made the solar way. I'll do that next summer.

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They smoke and dry jalapenos...which makes it a chipotle.  I don't think I've seen just a plain dried jalapeno though.

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They smoke and dry jalapenos...which makes it a chipotle.  I don't think I've seen just a plain dried jalapeno though.

*headslap* Oh, is that what a chipotle is? Like "canellini", it's a word I've never heard until about 2 years ago and suddenly everyone on VW is using it.
I've never seen those here, either. All we get is canned jalapeños that have no bite whatsoever. I don't know what they do to them in the canning but it kills the flavour.

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Could you grow your own jalapenos?  Chiles grow well in pots.  Well, not for me, but for people who can actually grow things.  ::)

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Could you grow your own jalapenos?  Chiles grow well in pots.  Well, not for me, but for people who can actually grow things.  ::)

Honey the only thing that grows for me is philodendrons. Even my hair falls out.

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Could you grow your own jalapenos?  Chiles grow well in pots.  Well, not for me, but for people who can actually grow things.  ::)

Honey the only thing that grows for me is philodendrons. Even my hair falls out.

Glad I'm not the only one who's gardening-impaired.  I can't even grow grass.  I keep trying though (the definition of insanity is...?).

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After sitting in the fridge for 48 hrs it's even tastier! Next time I will buy limes at a cheaper market, though, cause 10 limes cost me 5 Euros which is steep...but you can't always get them here.

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(Do they ever dry jalapeños? As far as I know I've never seen them but fresh.)

I used to work at a discount department store that sold a lot of factory over runs.  we did get jalapeno flakes in once.  If I ever see them again, I will pick one up for you.  I check their spices whenever I go shopping there. 

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I pickled 200 lemons last week. Hundred  lemons have chilli powder, Turmeric, Cumin powder, Fenugreek powder  and salt in them and another hundred have only salt in them. They are right now maturing. I will post the pics soon.

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mmmm.....sounds awesome, NJA!  Do you have quantities?  Did you toast the spices (in oil?) before packing with the lemons?

My nine month old LOVES hot mango pickle (in small quantities) on basmati rice.  The only Indian food she isn't crazy about is chile-garlic chutney.

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I love hot mango pickle and always have some one hand since my trip to India a couple of years ago, but can't imagine a western kid liking pickle...chutney yes, but pickle???

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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.

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This thread is making me drool....

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