Thursday, February 24, 2011

Lemon Pickles

There is a blog I very much enjoy reading called Tigress in a Pickle. While I rarely get to pickle things because I live with a pickled food hater (and pickling for one seems like a lot of work), I still enjoy reading her always interesting recipes and partaking of her brief but witty posts. She does a lot with Indian flavors which I find rather interesting, and when she posted about Indian sun pickles I just had to give them a try.

You see, I have a plethora of lemons from my lemon tree/bush right now and have been at a loss for what to do with them. One can only drink so much lemon aide and I already have a batch of limoncello steeping! If you do not find yourself in my position, I'm pretty sure you probably have a neighbor who is and would love to unload some produce on you. If, however, you're neighbor is a stingy mean old man who would rather see his lemons rot on the ground than give a few to you, just remember, the cover of darkness is your friend.

These sun pickles also don't really resemble what westerners would consider to be a pickle, so I think Jeffry will find them tasty. Sun pickles are like preserved lemons, but with more interesting flavors than salt and cinnamon. The lemon juice and good old fashion sunshine are what pickles the lemons, so no vinegar taste here. I'm not entirely sure what I will do with these once they are done, but the Tigress recommends chopping them up and mixing them with some basmanti rice and a dollop of yogurt on the side. I figure I'll start there and then begin experimenting. Perhaps some mixed in with fresh steamed cauliflower? I halved her original recipe to be more realistic with my uses. Whether one is canning, gardening or crafting it's always important to keep your production in line with reasonable use (are you really going to use 30 handmade doilies?). No point in storing two liters of pickled lemons in your fridge if you're not sure you're even going to like them. If you do end up loving them, you can always make more!

Sweet n' Spicy Lemon Pickle
from tigress in a pickle


8 small very fresh lemons, no blemishes

2 small lemons, juiced
1 Tbsp. cayenne powder
1 cup lightly packed brown sugar
1.5 Tbsp. sea salt
.75  Tbsp. whole fennel seeds
.75  Tbsp. whole cumin seeds
.5 Tsp. whole fenugreek seeds
.75  Tbsp. whole peppercorns
1 liter jar with a tight fitting non-reactive (no metal) lid
(I got my jar at cost plus, but I imagine ikea carries some good options too)


1) Wash your lemons and scrub any dirt off them. Make sure they are completely dry before moving to step two. Any water or yuck on your lemons could add to the risk of the batch going bad as it pickles.

2) Roast the fennel, cumin and fenugreek seeds in a dry pan over medium heat for a few minutes until they turn a shade darker and start to give off a toasty aromatic smell. Careful not to burn them. Once toasted, remove from the pan and grind the toasted seeds along with the salt and peppercorns. You can do this with a spice grinder or a mortar and pestle. This is a good task for your spouse/helpful friend while you do work on #3.

3) Cut off the two bump or scar ends on the lemons. Then cut them into medium sized chunks. I quartered mine, then sliced each quarter into two or three pieces. Remove any big seeds you find.

4) Mix your ground spices with the brown sugar and cayenne pepper.

5) Fill your very clean, very dry jar half way with lemons. These will shrink a lot over the next few days so don't be afraid to really pack them in there. Pour half the spice mixture over them and fill the jar the rest of the way with lemons. If your jar isn't full, you can always add more lemons than the recipe calls for. Top with the remaining spice mixture and the juice from two lemons.

6) Close the lid and shake vigorously!

7) Place jar in a sunny window for 8 weeks and shake once a day to distribute the spices. After the 8 weeks you can place the jar in the fridge where it should keep for a year.

-Fenugreek is an indian spice and I highly recommend buying from a food co op. A whole jar of spices from the bulk bin at a co op costs about 50 cents. Refilling your spice jars from the bulk bins will save you a TON of monies.

-You can check the mixture at 7 weeks to check for doneness. If the liquid has thickened and the skins are soft they are done and can be put in the fridge.

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