This article is from the Food Preserving FAQ, by Eric Decker firstname.lastname@example.org with numerous contributions by others.
From: Paul Holt
Hamad M'Rakad (Preserved Lemons and Limes )
This preserve gives a mellow lemony flavour to many North African dishes and
is easily made. Choose ripe unblemished lemons or limes. Wash them and make
two deep vertical cuts in a cross, almost, but not quite through them, so
that they still hold together at the stem. Sprinkle plenty of salt inside on
the cut flesh, about 125 g (4 OZ) for 1 kg (2 lb) fruit.
Then close them, and put them in a sterilized jar so that they are jammed
tightly together. Squeeze enough fresh lemon juice over them to keep them
covered. The salt will draw out the juices and the peel will soften within
a week. They will be ready to use in 3 or 4 weeks. Rinse off the salt be-
fore using and discard the flesh; it is the peel alone that is used for
flavouring. It is cheaper and easier, but not as good, to cover the salted
lemons or limes with strong brine, or a mixture of sunflower oil and water.
Claudia Roden: MIDDLE EASTERN FOOD, Harmondsworth 1970 (Penguin Books)
Lamoun Makbouss (Pickled Lemons)
A delicacy which is also magnificent made with fresh limes.
Scrub lemons well and slice them. Sprinkle the slices generously with salt
and leave for at least 24 hours on a large plate set at an angle, or in a
colander. They will become soft and limp, and lose their bitterness. Arrange
the slices in layers in a glass jar, sprinkling a little paprika between each
layer. Cover with corn or nut oil. Sometimes olive oil is used, but its
taste is rather strong and may slightly overpower the lemons.
Close the jar tightly. After about 3 weeks the lemons should be ready to eat-
soft, mellow and a beautiful orange colour.
[Email note: My mother accidentally discovered a way of speeding the process
when left with dozens of lemon wedges which had been used to garnish a large
party dish. She put them in the freezing compartment of her refrigerator to
keep them until she was ready to pickle them. When she sprinkled the frozen
lemons with salt, she found that they shed a large quantity of water and
softened in just over an hour. They were ready for eating after only a few
days in oil and paprika.
Lime Pickle (Hot)
12 whole limes
2 Tbsp salt
Juice of 3 lemons
2 bay leaves
4 oz green ginger (see page 160)
2 tsp cayenne pepper
2 oz green chiles
Peel and slice the ginger. Remove the seeds from the chiles. Wash and dry
the limes and cut them into slices and remove the pips. Put a layer of lime
slices in the bottom of a jar, sprinkle with salt and crushed bay leaf, add
some of the chopped chilies and strips of ginger. Repeat these layers until
the ingredients are used up and then pour in the lemon juice.
Having tied a piece of cloth over the jar, shake it thoroughly but carefully
and put it on a windowsill in the sunshine. Each day for 4 days add some
more salt and shake the jar again. Remove the cloth and put on a glass or
plastic top (never a metal one). Then leave the pickle to mature for a fort-
This makes a strong sharp pickle, not for over-sensitive palates. To make it
even stronger, put in more cayenne pepper, and leave the seeds in the chiles.
To make it less strong, halve the amount of chiles and omit the cayenne
pepper. This is really a basic recipe which can be added to or subtracted
from as you wish. It can be made with half limes and half lemons, or lime
juice may be substituted for the lemon juice. in a pinch it can be made
entirely with lemons and just the juice from half a dozen limes, or tinned
natural lime juice, if you can get it.
Spiced Lime Pickle
This very hot pickle is usually served in Indian restaurants with curry and
can be bought ready made up in jars, but is well worth making up for yourself.
2 tsp fenugreek
1 Tbsp cumin seeds
2 Tbsp dried chiles
1 1/2 pints olive oil
1 dessert spoon ground black pepper
3 Tbsp salt
6 cloves crushed garlic
1 Tbsp brown sugar
2 Tbsp mustard seed
Wash and dry the limes and lemons and cut them into pieces removing all the
pips [seeds]. Shake the mustard seed and fenugreek in a dry frying pan over
a good flame to roast them for a minute or two, and then grind them down
finely. Grind the cumin seed or crush it, but not too fine. Put together
the salt, garlic, ginger, mustard and fenugreek, and sprinkle them all over
the fruit, stirring well. Then pack the fruit into a jar, adding in the rest
of the ingredients in layers so that they are well spread through the pickle.
Heat the oil until it is smoking, and keep it hot for 5 minutes, but do not
burn it. Let the oil cool so that it will not break the jar, and pour it
over the pickle. Leave it loosely covered for a week, then screw down the
lid and keep it for another week before using it.
To make a milder pickle cut down on the chiles, or leave them out altogether
and substitute a pinch of chili powder or cayenne pepper.