Sunday, 19 December 2010

Snowflakes, pickled limes and preserved lemons

The heating is turned higher than ever before, you are wearing socks and slippers, you've located and donned your limited store of thermal underwear; outside the sky is thick and cotton woolly, the blue cast of the snowfall muffles and chills save for the odd thud of a snowball fight. I have a basket of limes and lemons under my table. The limes have gone yellow, time to use them up before they darken and grow soft.

Lime Pickle

15 limes
200g of rock salt
350ml of vinegar, either white wine or apple cider
350g of sugar
50g of coconut, dried (optional)
1 teaspoon of dried chilli flakes
1 tablespoon or so of black peppercorns

Stand up your limes and cut them into quarters then eigths but don't cut them all the way through to the bottom.
Stuff a tablespoon of rock salt inside each lime.
Put the rest of the salt, vinegar, sugar, coconut, chilli and peppercorns into a pan and warm through until the salt and sugar are melted.
Then add the limes and boil then simmer until the limes are yellow. This will take about 15 minutes. Let the pan cool.
Then layer the limes into clean (rinsed in boiling water, or put in the oven to sterilise) preserving jars (I used two one litre jars I bought in France).
Pour the cooking liquid over the limes.
Store for a couple of weeks before using.

Preserved lemons

15 lemons
300g of rock salt
2 tablespoons of black peppercorns
3 bay leaves
1 tablespoon of star anise (or 2 or 3 'stars' for prettiness)

Cut off the tips of the lemons and cut them into quarters then eigths but don't cut them all the way through to the bottom. Put a tablespoon of salt into the middle of each lemon.
Take your preserving jars and put a layer of salt with a few peppercorns into the bottom. Stack and squeeze in your lemons, layering with salt, peppercorn, bay and star anise.
Then close the jars and wait a month, pressing them down every so often as the liquid rises.

Israeli couscous with lentils, parsley, pomegranate syrup and preserved lemons

Israeli couscous/ptitim/maftoul isn't really couscous, it's pasta, shaped into pearls. It can be used as a basis for many dishes, but I had a tin of idle lentils in the store cupboard which I chivvied into use.

Olive oil
1 tin of brown lentils
2 shallots, peeled and diced
1 tomato, skinned and diced
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1/2 teaspoon of cumin
1/2 teaspoon of ground coriander

100g of Israeli couscous
20g of butter
Curly parsley
Pomegranate syrup
1 preserved lemon, diced

Fry the shallots, tomatoes and garlic together in olive oil, When the shallots are soft, add the carrots and the spices. Add the lentils and simmer until warm and soft.
Bring your couscous to the boil in slightly salted water and simmer until al dente. Drain. Toss in some butter.
Plate up your dish:
Put in the couscous and add the lentils in the middle. Garnish with the parsley, drizzle with the syrup and add the diced preserved lemon.
This dish is both warming and a reminder of summer.


  1. Gorgeous. There's something about preserving things which makes me feel all warm inside. I've never had a go at lemons or lime pickle and now I want to do both. They look so lovely in the jars, too.

  2. Quite divine this time of year...

  3. Simple and bound to be delectable! I`ve only ever `preserved` lemons & limes by freezing them for easy grating or slicing into vodka - how blinkered I`ve been! Specially love idea of coconut and chilli flakes with the limes. Shall start tomorrow.


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