Organic limes on sale, a passing glance at a recipe in a cookbook, a sudden desire to play with salt.
Maybe it's a retaliation for all the tooth-achingly sweet overload of the holidays, but I'll take a mouth-puckeringly sour pickle in an instant these days. Can't get enough cornichons. In fact, I am starting to salivate just thinking about it.
I've fallen onto this fad roughly 150 years too late, plus or minus a decade or so. Lime pickles have had their heyday come and go, and have quite an illustrious literary pedigree to show for it, featuring in Little Women (chapter 7, apparently).
I have no recollection of even wondering what lime pickles were while I was reading Little Women in 7th grade. I guess I was not inquisitive enough about citrus. I did get an A on the book report. And I do like a good pickle.
Modified from Nigella Lawson. Makes about 2 cups of pickles.
2 large or 3 small limes
1 1/2 cup coarse salt (I used kosher)
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/2 teaspoon cardamom seeds
6 small dried chili peppers
approximately 1 1/2 cups olive oil (not extra virgin) or other neutral oil
You will also need a 1/2 liter sterilized jar for storing the pickles, and a 9 or 10 inch square non-reactive baking tray or glass container.
Cut the limes into 8 or 12 slices (quartered, then 2 or 3 slices each), depending on the size of your limes, aim for less than a centimeter maximum width of rind on each slice.
Sprinkle 1/2 cup salt on the bottom of your tray, then arrange the limes on the salt in a single layer.
Sprinkle the remaining 1 cup of salt over the limes evenly. They will not be completely covered. Put this in the freezer for a minimum of 12 hours, but longer is fine.
Remove from the freezer after the allotted time and thaw completely. Put the limes and salt in a collander and, using very cold water, rinse all the salt off. Pat the limes dry with a towel.
Arrange the limes in a container that will hold all the slices and has at least an additional inch of space above the uppermost lime.
Starting with 1 cup of oil, mix in the spices and pour over the limes.
Continue to add as much oil as necessary to completely cover the limes. They must be fully submerged or they will mold. Close and store in a dark place for at least 3 weeks before eating, to allow the lime pickles time to absorb the spices.