Archive for April 9th, 2010

Pickled lemons are traditionally used in North African dishes.  The sourness of lemon or lime and the saltiness of olives can be cooked together with meat or fish, often in a traditional Tagine, or served as an accompaniment at the meal.  (I will be posting a delicious recipe for North African Spiced Baked Chicken with Pickled Lemon in the next week or so.)  The pickle is delicious finely chopped and stirred into Couscous.  The original recipe also suggests placing pieces on fish fillets before baking or using the lemon oil/vinegar as in dressings or on fish and chips for a spicy lemon flavour.  I tried, unsuccessfully, to make pickled lemons some years ago and was loth to try it again, but I experimented with a very small quantity with a different recipe and this time found it to be extremely successful.  The lemon and/or lime pickle is very quick and simple to make and can be used after three or four days, although three weeks is recommended to allow the fruit to start to soften.

This recipe was taken Crosse & Blackwell/Sarsons Vinegar Perfect Pickles by Suzanne Janusz.  (The recipe for Lime Pickle, a spicy accompaniment for Indian Food with a very different taste, was taken from the same booklet.)  This recipe is for finely sliced lemons and limes but it can be made with lemons or limes alone and I have seen whole and halved lemons prepared in a similar way, although I have not tried this.  I see no reason why larger pieces of fruit could not be used although they would probably need longer to absorb the pickling mixture.  It is better to make several small sized pots as the lemons start to deteriorate, becoming over soft, once the pot has been opened.  For this reason too it would be wise to reduce the ingredients, making a smaller amount, where the pickle is just for occasional use. 

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

North African Style Pickled Lemon & Lime
(Makes aprox 1ltr/1½pints)

6 lemons or limes (I used a mixture – 3 of each)
25g/1oz salt
15ml/1tbsp paprika
30ml/2tbsp caster sugar
75ml/5tbsp sunflower oil
300ml/½pint white distilled pickling malt vinegar

This recipe needs to be started the day before.

1.   Scrub and finely slice the lemons and/or limes.

2.  Layer the fruits and salt in a non-metallic colander or sieve.  Cover with a non-metallic cover (not touching the fruits) and leave in a cool place for 24hrs.

3.  Before preparing the pickle wash and sterilise the jars.  I usually do this by filling them with boiling water and putting the lids in a separate small bowl of boiling water.  Pour away the water just before filling each jar and once the jar is full immediately take the lid from the bowl and without touching the inside screw it onto the jar.  Although the contents for the jars in this recipe are not heated the hot lid should contract and form a seal: if re-using a jam jar with a ‘pop in/out indicator’ on top this may well contract.  However, the seal cannot be guaranteed so it is best to make occasional small quantities rather than one large batch.

4.  Do not rinse the fruit.  Layer in sterilised jars sprinkling paprika between the layers.

5.  Mix together the sugar, oil and vinegar. Pour this mixture (unheated) over the fruit.  Seal the jars. (See note above at 3.) 

6.  The jar should regularly be gently shaken to mix together the oil and vinegar.  Allow to mature for a few days and ideally up to three weeks before using.  Store in a refrigerator once open.

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