When Life Gives You Limes…


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.

Check these recipes for Lime Pickles:
Manisha’s Maharashtrian Lime Pickle
Musical’s Punjabi Lime Pickle
Indira’s Andhra Lime Pickle

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.

Lime Squash (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.

42 thoughts on “When Life Gives You Limes…

  1. This post is overwhelming my senses…too much delicious stuff packed into a single post, Anita! I do have some limes at hand (store-bought, poor me) and that lime squash is just the thing for this near-Delhi heat we are experiencing right now. Off to the kitchen…

    🙂 Don’t skip the step about using the peels – I felt so good looking at the lemony water, and the fact that I had harnessed the essential oils! It tasted great!

  2. I am hardly able to read the post Anita. Your pics are so enticing, I am so distracted..

    😀 I went all out to keep you guys enticed! (And worked a lot on those compound pictures, the diptychs and triptychs)

  3. OMG !! Seriously, what are those numbers up there, how can you do this to us 😦 Just like Nupur and Suganya have mentioned, I don’t think I can finish this post in one sitting, I’m going to take it slow, one para at a time may be :))

    Priya, slow and steady is the way…especially in these long summer days. Enjoy the squash (don’t hear this word much these days, do we?).

  4. don’t worry, anita, a margarita each night, and you will be done with them soon enough. last night, for the two of us, we finished 1/2 cup lime juice.
    both manisha’s and indira’s lime pickles are ready. both are spectacular. make them for sure.

    Classic Lime Margaritas are the best kind. Way to go, Bee – we’ll sit down to a few tonight!

    I am planning a small batch of hot-sour lime pickle – but with the K-Pra packaged pickle masala – I do like that 😯 .

  5. Lovely one, Anita. Quite a lime-a-thon that is :).Some of the pictures remind me of my Chachaji’s garden :). Ah! i wish i had come across this post when i made my pickle, because i just shade dried and powdered some lime and lemon rind then. btw, 20 kilos of lime is gonna’ go away in a flash if you have people like me around, who just sustain on nimbu-paani/shaikanji in the summers!!

    …and I am planning to make some lime-flavoured salt too! Didn’t get around to it in time for this post. My Mum uses her share almost entirely for nimbu-paani – Kashmiris tend to think that is the only way to combat heat! I am tending to lean towards Margaritas though! 😉

  6. Using peels to flavor the water sounds yummmmm. I once did the same to make some hot and sour soup….and man! the aroma coming off of it was out of this world!

    Hi Nabeela. Limes do have that wonderful refreshing fragrance that is equally at home in sweet and savoury things. And Thai food makes use of this aroma in much of their food – in the soup it is the star with the kaffir lime leaves and lemon grass, and lime juice.

  7. Hey Anita! Great post, and look at those mangoes just lying on the ground! 90 kilos!! I just can’t fathom it…
    Thanks for linking to my Greek confections…did you know that I infused the peel/zest in my lime syrup as well? That step really adds a fine amount of flavour to nimbu pani, I must agree!
    Beautiful jars of marmalade too! Chiles eh? You’re as bad as I am: total capsaicin-addict!

    And they are ripening too fast – the fridge has been taken over by the limes and mangoes, and they are spread on the dining table as well! I have just come from making the first batch of my glorious mango jam – just three jars – using only about 2 kilos of them mangoes 😦 ! Much hard work awaits – and a really messy kitchen splattered with sticky syrup. Aamras on Mon will take care of another few kilos.

    I should have put more chillies in the marmalade – this bit just looked pretty without adding much heat 😉

  8. Hey A,
    Your house must be smelling all lemony and wonderful! You’ve been working extra hard with all that, lovely to read these harvest stories at your end…am off to Madras next month and in August, with a mango tree that harvests just then, I’m surely looking forward to the trip 🙂

    More of mangoes, really – and the ones that have made it into the fridge are perfuming the milk, and dahi, and… 😀 Enjoy your mangoes – maybe some jam in the making? And, what have you been up to – more videos? I have been waiting patiently for that potato recipe…forever!

  9. enjoy the bounty. really liked all the pics and the creations…jai

    Thanks, Jai. You could make some jam with those raspberries….

  10. Lime Squash looks cool. Just right for this humid heat. Can I have a few of those lovely Amarpali mangoes?

    Hey, ISG – I would love to have you partake of my bounty – they have all ripened. The fridge is overflowing – and the dining table is groaning. They are even better than them Hapoos 😉 a hybrid between the hapoos and a South Indian mango, I believe, created by Pusa Institute.

  11. You could add a single Bhot Jolokia to the marmalade… 😀
    Perhaps you could dip the mango-pieces in lime juice and sun-dry them? That way you could procrastinate… 😀

    But no one is selling these, can you believe it?!!

    Sun-dried mangoes – aampapad!! but it won’t dry in this wet weather 😦

  12. i went scrolling mad!! reminded me of the rangapur lime tree my mom had in the backyard….it used to touch the ground with the weight of the fruit!! and we’d go crazy trying to distribute the bounty and use it all up…relatives and friend would get litres and litres of limeade my mother would make…and we’d roll our eyes in disgust mostly….you know how teenagers can be!! alas all that is in past tense!! with your post, i could almost smell them!! cheers!! lemon margaritas then it is!! cheers!!

    At least you have wonderful memories! The Rangpur limes are said to be the best! Lime Margaritas rule!

  13. oh wow, power packed post this is…the idea of lime skins in the limeade is just so amazing, cant wait to try it when i make mu usual batch of lemonade (when summer returns to africa in september)

    That step added an amazing amount of flavour to the concentrate, Rachna – my best limeade ever!

  14. Wow first bee and jai and now you! Finally this gypsy misses home and garden. The marmalade had been in my dreams for many months. I’m speechless with this post. The use of Pips is really the winner. Just Fantastic Anita!!!

    You know there is a lot you can grow in pots, Anjali…not mangoes or limes though 😀

  15. Anita, it must be a great feeling to have all those mangoes and limes in your home. Of course, it is hard work but imagine the satisfaction of looking at all those bottles of goodies. I don’t think anyone among us can boast of making their own margarita mixes and the lime salt to line the glasses.

    It is good to know that the fruit is organic, and has ripened naturally. Which is the reason for its intense flavour. And those Margaritas were outstanding!

  16. Did i hear aampapad! i love the khatta ones that come with masala powder!! oh! i am salivating……yumm!

    That’s the one we like too! TH goes searching the galies of Purani Dilli to find the aampapad and the chat masala for it – he is very fastidious when it comes to these two pleasures.

  17. I’m with Musical there…aampapads are so intensely delicious sprinkled with chat masala!
    So those chiles aren’t widely available in Delhi yet? They are making chile-head-lines here since they’ve replaced Red Savina habaneros as the hottest in the world…not good for daily use though!
    I make a relish now and then with habaneros; it is so hot that one gets light-headed and giddy from eating it, but very few people will tread that far…
    I use Reshampatti, Guajillos, and Bird-dropping for normal use…

    Ah, so you are a fan too…of all things strangely Indian!

    We had the headlines too…Reshampatti (silk-ribbon) – that sounds Indian/Hindi, is it?

  18. That idea about using peels was great! Was just about to throw all the peels away!! I’m off to make some limeade!!

    Glad to have helped rescue the peels 😀

  19. Ummm…yeah…like one of the most common Indian chiles! lol You probably use them- you best set to work learning all the chile names… 😀
    I’ll be quizzing you on them at the end of the semester… 🙂

    The tutorial first? Please. 😀 They are all called laal mirch here!

  20. Laal…spicy, hot, piquant, fresh?
    I perhaps ought to do a post on different chiles…the thing is, the WHOLE ones that I have are all Latin-American varieties…though, they form the gene-base of all the ones that came after.
    I just made pumpkin bars (pumpkin cake made in a flat pan with cream-cheese icing and chopped nuts). “Bars” can be cookie/biscuit-ish, pastry-ish or cake-ish…a flat sweet…like barfis. I added, besides candied ginger… ground bird-dropping chiles, ground guajillos, and ground habaneros(!!!) to the cinnamon/clove/mace combo…hope my “smidgens” were truly smidgens! [looks a bit worried] 😀

    Laal=red!! Laal mirch = red chilli.

    It would be interesting to know the chillies by their names. They ought to be sold by their names even if there be hundreds of varieties – then we too, would know which to use to get different heat levels…

    So the smidgen was smidgen or did you need to frost the bars? Some chocolate frosting would be great! 😉

  21. Awesome. I am so impressed that you have such a huge garden, and are really making a lot of things with your crop.

    The recipes are great! I hope to try some of them.

    Just a small garden. Even what my parents have is a largish backyard – but planted with many trees. 😀

  22. Chocolate-frosted pumpkin bars would be interesting…for advanced palates! It would get me strange looks though… 🙂 Actually, Martha Stewart had a recipe for chocolate-pumpkin pie in her magazine a few years ago- have yet to attempt it; intriguing colour/flavour combo. You’re a dangerous designer Anita! 😉 These deep tones…

    Come to think of it, I’ve seen chocolate-dipped gajar-ladoos somewhere…similar effect!

    The bars recieved lip-applause 🙂 I fresh-roasted pecans for the top; these are really an autumn-sweet, but no-one reported me to the seasonal-food authorities 😀

    Generally, larger chiles are mild, small ones are not! Even here, in the summer open markets, the sellers often don’t have a name to offer…I found one I really, really liked last year- a small purple Thai variety that had such a nice taste- a bit like serranos, but even better. I just hope that whoever sold them does so again this year!

    You can tell the tastes of different chillies?? [bows] other than the bell pepper they are all … 😀

  23. After Pel’s mirchi-101, i am craving for some more spicy aampapad, loaded with mirchi 🙂

    btw, tried your trick of using lime peel extract in limeade, and boy! am i ever grateful that i did 🙂

    word: it rocks!

    It is such a clever thing, even if I say so myself! 😀

  24. Anita, so you are on a save the peels campaign, eh? 🙂 Loved the idea of using the peels to infuse water… I am a complusive infuser… lime margaritas sounds awesome with home grown limes… And what can I say about the pictures, truly droolworthy.. BTW, why is the lime squash so white?

    My limeade is always this colour (too much daylight coming thru maybe?)…the colour of spring mist, as Pel puts it!

  25. anita, i am so distracted by the pictures of these goodies that its becoming hard to concentrate on anything else. right now i am in my office and drooling over these awesome pics. i am particularly interested in ur Lemon Marmalade and just went through its recipe. there is one large chakkota(pips u used) tree, as we call, in our estates bk in india. i always liked it little bitter and sour taste and amma used to make its concentrate for summer days. can i use orange in place of this?

    If you are talking about replacing the lime with the oranges – absolutely. Just remove the white pith from the peels though. And if you are talking about the pips from the orange – well you can use pips from any citrus fruit. In fact, you can even entirely omit them from the Lime Marmalade since there is plenty of pectin in lime peels. Hope that helps!

  26. Oh, there are distinct flavour differences among the mirch, besides the heat-level…I just spied some fresh, green “d’arbol” chiles at a Mexican grocer last night (I stopped in looking for some ready-made food of some kind, as I hadn’t eaten for several hours and was on my way to a Saturday night out). I’m glad I stopped! They had Seville(bitter) oranges!! Which brings us right back to marmalade… 🙂

    For the milder ones, I could try and educate myself…but the hotter ones must prevent any other finer tasting!

    I have heard a lot about Seville oranges but don’t really know what those are – maybe googling is in order 😀 – and they may actually very well grow here as well – under a different name. When I read all the oohing and ahhing about Key Limes onmany blogs, I was like – must be a really special lime – only to discover it was the ubiquitous nimboo!!

    I looked up – it is the main source of all those wondorous orange liqueurs!

    [many hours later…] And Chakotra (Citrus maxima) is Pummelo!!

    Indian citrus varieties of horticultural importance.
    more on citrus fruits here

    And here is a fantastic link on traditional Indian methods of preserving fruits and vegetables, including sun drying!

  27. While I was growing up, we had a huge garden and one large lime tree. We supplied lime to everyone’s kitchen… because we had more than we could manage. Now I wince when the vendor asks for 2 bucks a piece… ditto for mangoes and coconuts!!

  28. I might sound dumb here.. but I cudn’t get ya… is the mausambi or nimbu dat u’ve used in the limeade? 😀 pls help … visited after long time… absolutely in awe of ur posts! u rock!

    It’s our good-ol’ nimby, yaar. It is a Lime in English, and all the time we were calling them lemons!!! Musambi is sweet lime. Galgal is Hill Lemon/citrus pseudolemon, and Chakotra is Pummelo/citrus maxima!

    Come over for the limeade, seriously. 😀

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