When I first met my partner, Sadie, she didn’t let on that her family recipe for salted lime pickle was a thing of wonder. It was only after I wooed her for a few months that a small, unassuming jar of pickle was brought from the fridge and delivered with characteristic understatement. In it, I found a perfect accompaniment to curries. And now that the secret is out, Fat Pig Farm is happy to share the recipe with you, too.
- 400 g (14 oz) limes
- 1½ tbsp salt
- 1 tsp ground turmeric
- ½ tsp cayenne pepper
- 2 tsp ground allspice
- about 2–3 tbsp white vinegar
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Wash and sterilise several 200-300 ml (7-10 fl oz) jars, see below.
Pickling time 6 months
Make this when limes are cheap. Dice the limes, discarding the seeds, into about 1 cm pieces, reserving any juice. Carefully pack the flesh into sterile jars. Combine the salt, spices, vinegar and lime juice and pour into the jars over the limes. Seal. Stand the jars in a warm spot, even with a little sunlight, for a week or so. It’s important to jiggle the limes often to keep the liquid around them. Once they’ve softened, store them in the pantry (or a cool, dark spot) for 6 months before using.
This is the big one. In the age of refrigeration we’ve often forgotten how much mould and yeast thrive when left unchecked. You can preserve things through excluding oxygen (tight-fitting lids), introducing an acid (pickled foods), and by adding enough sugar or salt. But even then it’s important to start with really clean implements, and to store things in sterilised jars with sterile lids. So wash your storing jars or containers really well before sterilising.
The heat method
(a dishwasher is a good place to start)
Heat kills bugs, and bugs can cause your preserves to lose quality, or even go off. If you want to sterilise just one bottle, or a few jars, you can place them in a saucepan of cold water, on their sides, making sure they’re full of water and submerged. Put their lids in there too. Bring this pot to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes. This will kill just about all the bugs you’re worried about. The only downside of this method is that it is a little tricky to take hot bottles from a pot of boiling water, though there are special tongs on the market to help you. A good thing to note is that hot sauces and jams will crack a cold jar, and this method allows you to have your jars pre-warmed ready to pour in a hot conserve.
Dishwashers, with a hot rinse cycle, also sterilise the jars, so that could be an easier method.
Be sure, when dealing with hot jars, not to put them onto a cold surface or they will crack. Always put them onto a wooden board. Cold jars will also crack if they have very hot things put in them, so warm the jars a little first, using warm water or similar.
Recipe and image from Not Just Jam by Matthew Evans (Murdoch Books, $35, hbk)
View our Readable feasts extract and more recipes from the book here.