How to Make Lemon Pickle
Origins and Variations
Lemon pickle or pickled lemons can be prepared from citrus recipes that call for the results to be either hot and sour or somewhat sweeter. One recipe takes 30 days of "marinating."
We have a variety of recipes and limes may be substituted for the lemons. Using limes, I prefer to make my own pickle, because the jarred manufactured type I once purchased was too spicy-hot and bitter to permit the flavors to come through.
The condiment originates in many countries, although India is a primary origin point. This lemon dish and its recipes are also found in Morocco, other parts of Africa, the Middle East, and elsewhere.
Ingredients that may be unfamiliar:
- Asafoetida or Hing - This is a powder made from the sum formed by the sap of a giant fennel plant. It can be fund in powdered space form in Asian markets.
- Methi seeds - Fennugeek seeds. Use the usual type from your grocery or look for Methi Fennugeek.
- Mustard Oil - This is as delicious as Sesame Oil for flavoring, but with a different personality. It offers a lighter spicy taste great for stir-fry, marinades, sauces, chutneys, and drizzlking orver a number of dishes. Try it over your coleslaw and for dipping, like wasabi.
A Note on Heat
A kind reader wrote in to warn about mouth-itching at the taste of higher levels of spice heat, as a possible sign of allergy - to the point of anaphylactic shock.
I have experienced allergic itching and good-hot-spice itching and see and feel a distinct difference between the two. However, the reader has a point -- I also want to caution gourmans to be careful if they begin to itch after ingesting any food or drink.
I like spices hot enough to make my mouth itch a bit, but this itch/heat is controllable because milk counteracts heat readily. The allergic itching DOES NOT RESPOND TO MILK. If you suffer the latter type, sometimes along with swelling and numbness, get to a hospital ER.
Lemon Pickle Without Cooking - Hot and Sour
- 1.5 Pounds of fresh Meyer lemons, or use limes
- 1/2 Pound fresh ginger root
- 1/2 Pound fresh hot red cayenne peppers
- 1/3 Pound salt
- 3/4 Cup white sugar
- 4 tsp ground lovage seeds
- 1/4 tsp Asafetida or Hing (see above)
- Wash all of the fruits and vegetables and pat dry.
- Peel the ginger, dry it in a warm place for 2 hours, and cut it into thin one-inch pieces.
- Cut lemons up into 8 pieces.
- Remove stems from peppers and cut into 1/2" pieces. Remove some of the seeds if you want a less-hot dish.
- Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and then divide them into a couple of canning jars or bottles and lid tightly.
- Place the jars in a sunny window for 2 - 3 days, remove from window sil and keep in a cool dry place. Use within 6 momths to a year.
Lemon Pickle in Mustard Oil
- 2 Pounds of fresh Lemons - washed and dried.
- 1/2 Cup salt
- 1.5 Cups mustard oil (see first section above)
- 2 large pieces of Asafoetida or 2 Tbsp powdered
- 4 tsp crushed red chilli pepper or just use chili powder
- 2 Tbsp mustard seeds
- 1/2 Pound fresh ginger - wash, dry, peel and cut into 1" pieces
- 1/4 cup Whole fresh red chillies
- 3 Tbsp Methi seeds (see above)
- 1 Cup lemon juice
- 1 Tbsp salt
- Cut each lemon lengthwise into four pieces.
- Coat the interior and exterior of the lemon pieces with salt and set aside until slihtly soft.
- Lightly heat the oil in a pot until it begins to smoke and remove it from the stove top. QUICKLY add asafoetida and when it swells, crush it with a spoon. Add chili powder and stir until bright red; than add mustard seeds and stir about 30 seconds until fragrant.
- Add the fried spices, ginger, and whole red peppers to the lemons and cook over moderate heat until slightly soft, stiring constantly.
- Add 1 Tbsp salt, methi seeds, and lemon juice; stir and heat over moderate heat for 5 minutes. If pot begins to smoke, lower heat. Remove from stove top.
- Pour the lemon pickles into clean jars and lid tightly. Set aside. You can use this dish immediately after it cools.
Sweet Lemon Pickle
- 1 Pound fresh lemons - This will be 4 or more lemons.
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 1/4 Cup brown sugar
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp garam masala or 1 tsp chilli powder
- Curry powder, to taste - for an East Asian flavor, use Chinese 5 Spice instead.
- Wash and chop the lemons with the full peels into small pieces, discarding seeds, but catching all the juice.
- In a bowl, mix ;emons and all the other ingredients.
- Pour the pickle mix into glass pickle or canning jars and store in a warm place a few days to meld flavors.
Sesame Oil Lemon Pickle
This is one recipe I truly enjoy, because I like the flavor and aroma of sesame oil.
- 6 whole lemons, washed and dried
- Hot water to cover lemons in a pot
- 1.5 Cup salt
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 2 tsp Fenugeek seeds
- 3 Tbsp chili powder
- 1 tsp Hing
- 3/4 Cup Sesame oil
- In a pot, bring the water to the boil and remove from heat.
- Soak lemons in hot water 15 minutes. Drain and pat lemons dry; cut lengthwise into quarters and place on a plate.
- Combine all remaining ingredients in the lemon pot and heat to just beginning to smoke. Remove from heat and stir for 3 minutes.
- Place lemons into the pot, return to heat and stir for 3 minutes.
- Pour pickle mix into clean jars and lid tightly. Allow to sit overnight and enjoy.
1/2 Gallon Marinated Lemon Pickle
- 2 Pounds of fresh thin-skinned lemons
- 1 Pound sugar
- l tsp asafoetida
- 4 tsp crushed red chili pepper or 1 Tbsp chilk powder
- 2 tsp tumeric and 3/4 Cup table salt mixed together well in a small bowl
- Lengthwise, cut lemons half through and leave halves attached.
- Use salt and turmeric to coat the insides and stuff these half-cut lemons, then place them into a 1/2 gallon clean pickle jar, lid it tightly, and set aside for 30 days.
- Open the jar after 30 days and drain water into a bowl.
- Cut the marinated lemons completely in half and each half in half (4 sections each); then put them back into the jar.
- Into the lemon-water mix the asafoetida, red chili pepper, and sugar; then pour all of this over the lemons in the jar and lid it tightly again.
The pickle may be served the next day, but it is able to be kept in the jar for 2 years of tightly lidded. Otherwise, it can mold.