As we hear the word pickles, at first it strikes as spiced pickles or the complicated process behind it. It is not true always. Today, I am sharing one process of preserving lemons with salt or nimbe uppinkai as we call in our region. It is a yearly ritual of many homes in Dakshina Kannada/ Mangalore/ Coastal Karnatak to make this pickles when lemons are available in abundance. It stays good for one year or more. As I feel, it is therapeutic to make them at home. In general, it does not include many complicated process except that care needs to be taken to have really dry environment to make them. Otherwise things can go bad and end up in spoilt pickles. As kids we were not allowed to touch the ingredients and vessels while mom was making it!
Coming to benefits, lemon is one such fruit has number of health benefits. At first place it is rich in vitamin C hence a very well-known immunity booster. It catalyses iron absorption! Appetizer, so it makes a good accomplishment to one’s meal when sick. As this specific pickles has no spices, it is good to have during cold, throat infection, fever etc. as spicy food isn’t a good option then.
Preparation time: 1 hour
Incubation time: 1-3 months, depending on the variety of lemons used
Lemon pieces – 2 cups or approximately 12-15 medium lemons
Rock salt/ table salt – 1 cup
Water – ¾ cup
- Keep a glass jar with a proper lid or porcelain jar made for pickles ready. It should be washed and dried carefully.
- Wash lemons clean; pat dry with clean cotton cloth.
- Spread on a dry cloth and allow drying completely. Care should be taken such that no traces of water should remain.
- Meanwhile, you can make strong salt water and keep it ready.
- To do it, Take a small vessel, add salt and water mentioned under ingredients. Boil well until water reduces to about half the initial measure.
- Switch off the stove, allow water to cool and comes to room temperature. Filter it to remove impurities.
- Cut each lemon into 8 or more pieces as shown below. If you have large lemons then it may need to cut into more than 8 pieces.
- Fill the lemon pieces into the jar which is ready. Add salt water, mix well with a dry spoon.
- If the salt water does not cover from the top of lemons, then top it with a spoonful of table salt/ powdered salt, keep the lemons covered b salt on top.
- Close the lid tight so that it does not expose to the outside environment.
- Keep checking it every morning, for initial 5-7 days. It should not be attacked by fungus. Each time you mix with a dry spoon carefully.
- After a week’s time, lemons should release water well by covering it nicely and the color must be changed & looked as if cooked.
- After this time, keep it in a dry place untouched for 15 day to one month. I suggest to check it in between so that it won’t be spoiled (extra care is better for the beginners). If you still have doubt, you can also refrigerate it after first week.
- This recipe remains the basic recipe for lemon pickles which can be relished as it is with rice/ ganji, ghee and other side dishes. You can also add chilli powder and other spices to make spicy pickles.
- Above is the basic lemon pickles made at our place, coastal region and Kasaragod.
- You can make variations by adding fresh hippali/ long pepper or fresh green pepper corns or fresh gandhari menasu (jeerige menasu which is a small variety of green chilli). I have added few long peppers this year as it was available fresh from a relative's farm.
- Spices (chilli, fenugreek, turmeric powder) powder along with fried garlic & tadka (seasoning of mustard and oil) can be used instantly to a small portion of this pickles and finish it off in few days.
- You can directly mix rock salt or table salt to the cut pieces of lemons initially instead of salt water if you are confident. My mother makes it this way. But as a special precautionary measure, I make it a point to add prepared salt water.
- I used assam lemon here which is a large variety of lemon which is less sour compared to smaller one.
- Any sour variety of lemon can be used here such as regular small ones or dudlu huli (Pomelo/ Citrus maxima) or herale kai (Citron lime).