When life gives you lemons…well, actually I got limes, Persian limes, to be precise…make limeade. I have finally established that what we use in India are not lemons! The most common yellow nimboo (from Persian – limoo) that we use day in and day out, goes by the name Key Lime in the US. What my Dad has in his garden are two Persian Lime trees.
The crop is in – I have 90 kilos of Amrapali mangoes, and 20 kilos of the most beautiful limes to deal with! Usually, I have to tackle just about a third of this, but with my parents away for the summer I have to consume/process the major part of this lot. A third has already been sent to my sister who lives in the neighbouring city of Gurgaon. She is going to have to make her own pickles and jams this year🙂 – I have too much on my hands.
Still, it is always a joy to see the beautiful bounty. Thankfully, I have kitchen-help, and on such occasions, TH steps in willingly.
So what do you think I am going to do with this bumper crop?
Every year we make lemon pickles the sweet and the sour kind. The sweet one used to come out on special ‘fasting’ days when certain foods and spices are considered taboo. Maharashtrian tradition counts peanut oil, mustard or rai seeds, and hing (asafoetida) amongst them. Lime is the one fruit or vegetable that can be pickled without either oil or mustard seeds. This is amongst the easiest of pickles to make and pairs perfectly with ‘fasting’ foods such as sabudana khichdi, sabudana thalipeeth, or with boiled cubed potatoes tempered with a little bit of ghee and cumin.
Since I already have a jar full of the sweet pickle, I made some of the Punjabi kind. Lime pickle is believed to boost the appetite; the more it ages the more beneficial it is considered to be.
This time I am taking preserving to a whole different level – even the pips and peels are being put to work. The peels were used to infuse the water for the limeade concentrate; some of the juiced lime skins were chopped and added to the pickle; some of the pips were boiled to extract pectin – let’s see if this takes well to freezing or not. There are cubes of frozen lime juice in the freezer, and limeade in the fridge.
I could make some of the limes into marmalade (with hot chilli peppers!) but I’ll wait for the winter crop – right now it is time for mango jam. But first, I give you the recipe for lime squash or limeade concentrate.
2 C juice of fresh limes
peels of all or half of the limes
2 C water
2 ½ C sugar
Wash and dry the limes. Peel the limes and put the peels with 2 cups of water in a non-reactive pan. Boil gently for 10 minutes; the water will turn a pale yellow. Allow to cool. Remove the peels. Discard, or process further to make your own candied peels! Add sugar to the infusion and bring to boil, stirring occasionally. Let boil for 5 minutes. Cool to room temperature.
Meanwhile, juice all the limes, removing the seeds. Don’t worry too much if some seeds get into the juice; they can be removed easily later. You may sieve the juice if you like. I like some pulp in my concentrate. Mix into the cooled sugar syrup. Any seeds that may have found their way into the juice will float to the top, and you can skim them off now. Bottle and refrigerate.
To make limeade, mix together one part concentrate, five parts water or club soda, a pinch of salt (mandatory here in Delhi!) and ice. Stir and serve. But of course, you can also use it to make lime Margaritas instead! Cheers!
I got about 1/3 C pectin rich syrup from 1/8 C of lime pips. Use it to thicken jams and jellies. Check here for the method.