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Preserved Limes

Kat has a great sense of style and we both love entertaining.  When we had her family over for dinner recently she had the idea of decorating the table with whole limes.  It looked great but what are we to do with ten limes?  (At 1/4 of a lime and 2 – 3 oz of gin per G & T that’s a lot of Bombay Saphire.)  As usual my motto is “when life hands you limes make some sort of preserve”.

Preserved Limes 1

For inspiration I turned to The Paupered Chef’s recipe for preserved meyer lemons.  Taking into account that limes are smaller than lemons but lemons have more substantial amounts of pith and peel, a bit of guess work was called for in terms of proportioning the lime sections to lime juice to salt.  Luckily the ratio of five limes to the juice of five other limes worked perfectly to fill a 500mL Mason jar.  I won’t know if I got the salt right (1/3 cup, kosher) until these guys are ready for tasting in a week.  Also added to the mix were coriander seeds and a bay leaf to provide exotic complexity.

As I was making this recipe I briefly considered whether this would be made better by replacing some or all of the salt with sugar?  I decided against this because: 1.) limes are already pretty sweet already (compared to other citrus); 2.) they have a natural affinity for salt, see margaritas; and 3.) I think we’re probably most likely to use these in ethnic (Mexican, Thai) savoury applications.  Some time in the future I’d like to try candying citrus, though.

Preserved Limes

Adapted from the Paupered Chef recipe for preserved meyer lemons
  • 10 limes, half juiced and half for slicing (normally I’d give a quantity by weight for ingredient like this but limes (at least the ones I’ve seen here in Toronto) have all seemed to be exactly the same size.  Also, I forgot to record their weight.
  • 75 g (1/3 cup) kosher salt
  • 1 / 8 cup olive oil
  • 1 500 ml Mason jar

Preserved Limes 3Cut each lime into eight wedges longitudinally (each cut passes through the poles of the lime) and remove the white pith from the centre of the lime.  At this point also discard the seeds, thankfully lime seeds are considerably less numerous than lemon seeds.

Limes tossed with kosher salt

Limes tossed with kosher salt

In a bowl toss the lime wedges with the kosher salt to coat them evenly.  Put the bay leaf and coriander seeds into the jar, pack with lime wedges and cover with lime juice from the other five limes.  You should have a few extra tablespoons of lime juice, save this because the wedges will soak up juice (mainly the skins, I assume) and therefore the level of juice will need to be replenished to keep the wedges submerged.

Close the jar tightly and shake it like a paint can being mixed–just much less vigorously  Let the jar of limes mature at room temperature over five days.  Check the level of juice after the first day or so and replenish with the reserved juice, if needed.  After the five days have passed top the jar with the olive oil, close tightly, and refrigerate.

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2 Comments

  1. PJ says:

    It’s too funny that you blogged this – the other day I was working on a post about the preserved meyer lemons I made several months ago. I guess we must be on similar wavelengths. Congrats on your inclusion in Taste T.O.’s blog-a-log this past weekend, by the way!

    Can’t really speak for the Paupered Chef’s version, but the one I used by Paula Wolfort suggested letting them mature for at least 30 days before eating to properly preserve.

    Obviously this might be a bit different since limes are smaller, but it’s just a thought :)

    Cheers!
    PJ

  2. foodwithlegs says:

    PJ,

    I guess one of the (slight) downsides of seasonal cooking is that at this time of year the minds of food bloggers turn, in unison, to citrus. Speaking of which I like the look of your lime curd recipe.

    Thanks.

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