With a surfeit of Meyer lemons from our little trees, had to figure out what to do with them…
Actually, it’s quite fun coming up with bunches of ideas! And I had help. Shankari of Sacramento Spice (formerly Stream Of Consciousness) suggested I make Manisha’s Indian Lemon Pickle, a favorite traditional recipe from Manisha’s family. The recipe & detailed photos are on her blog: Indian Food Rocks. It turned out to be a cooking experiment in delayed gratification & desperate patience!!!
This is the first of our entries for the 2010 Lemon Love Fest at WineImbiber.com
Check out their growing collection of delish Meyer Lemon recipes.
The ingredients are simple:
- 6 lemons (12 Indian or Meyer lemons, due to smaller size)
- 1/2 cup salt
- 1/4 cup red chili powder (I used cayenne)
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 3 tsp turmeric powder
- 1 tsp methi (fenugreek) seeds
- 1 tsp black mustard seeds
- 1/4 tsp hing (asafoetida) powder
- Juice of 1 lemon (2-3 lemons in India)
- Large glass jar, approx 2 liters in volume
Made one slight change to the recipe:
Reduced the 1/4 cup Chili powder to ‘ONLY’ 1/8 cup (tsk, tsk) – still a generous amount for the quantity of lemons. (Used cayenne. Wonder is it the same spice as Indian chili powder?) With plenty of chili, sugar & salt, I’m sure the pickling process will proceed just fine. Will let you know how it comes out.
Shown left to right, top to bottom (clockwise): These are the 3 spices and 3 flavors – besides lemon – used in the recipe. Black Mustard Seed, Hing (Asafoetida) Powder, Methi (Fenugreek) Seed, Organic Sugar, Chili (Cayenne) Powder, and Sea Salt.
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Sunday, MAR 22nd
Lemon pickle got assembled late afternoon. Could only put it in the sun for the last hour of the day. Will start with a regular sun-up to sundown routine tomorrow.
In the photos (more coming SOON), you will note my use of a rather inelegant jar, a big #14 size glass jar whose lid I’ve managed to lose in my assorted collection of too-many-jars-for-future-projects. But it’s too potentially useful to throw into recycling! (Do others of you have this ‘saving things’ problem?)
Anyway, I’m using saran wrap for a ‘lid’ along with two fat fresh-produce-rubber-bands with asparagus printed on them. (Oh, dear. ‘fraid I may be revealing too much about my kitchen habits already.) Now, if I had my wits about, while photo-styling my own shots, would have made sure you could read those rubber bands. Will rearrange them for my follow-up shots.
Day 1 (of 60), Monday, MAR 23rd
The Lemon Pickle’s “brewing.” My family can’t believe we have to wait TWO months! The house sure smelled like authentic Indian cookery yesterday afternoon…
Day 2, Tuesday, MAR 24th
I’ve worked out the routine, which starts in the sunny parts of the house. It’s still pretty chilly outside in the morning.
8-9:30am ~ Pickle jar is put on the bottom stair where the sun first shines in from the sliding glass doors.
9:30-11am ~ Pickle jar is moved to the upstairs office. Sits on the desk corner near a very sunny window.
11am-1pm ~ Pickle jar is moved outside onto the back stair.
1pm-5:30pm ~ Pickle jar is moved a fourth time to the little slate covered “sun” patio in the backyard where the sun warms the slate surface for pickle projects, sunbathers, and cats.
5:30-6:30pm ~ Pickle jar, move #5, to a sunny corner by our front door where it cooks in the last hour of daylight.
In the heat of summer, it’s really scorching out front. The brass door handle gets SO hot, it burns your hand if you hold it too long! (Have to find some other sort of attractive sturdy handle for our front door. The brass one tarnishes badly anyway.)
How insane is all this….for authentic lemon pickle!!! Perhaps there’s a bit of ZEN in it?
Occurs to me that our pickle jar pilgrimage is sort of like the silly American grade school ‘Flat Andy’ project, where a comical oversize paper doll is mailed to family & friends to be taken to various places and photographed at those sites.
Perhaps I’ll do that with our pickle jar wanderings… Who ever thought one would get THIS desperate to do photography for a food blog post?
Day 3, Wednesday, MAR 25th
Stirred the contents when I brought the jar in last night. Tasted the juices from the spoon afterwards. YUM! Great taste. So glad I cut the 1/4 cup chili powder down to 1/8 cup. Still PLENTY fiery for our American palettes!
Tonight my sons, Marc (36) and David (soon-to-be 31 in April), while hovering around the jar said there’s NO WAY they can wait two months for this pickle to be done. They may have to go to Apna Bazaar, our local Indian/Pakistani grocery, to purchase a commercial variety, while we wait for our chemistry experiment to mature.
Day 5, Friday, MAR 27th (5th month anniversary since Bri’s death)
This morning when I moved the pickle to its 2nd spot in the day’s travels, noticed a slight bit of ‘whiteness’ on the top layer of pickles. Assume its the little live microbes being stimulated by the slow cooking. And noticed the ‘sauce’ is getting much thicker, when I rotated the jar around to incorporate that top layer and to thoroughly moisten everything.
Manisha is on her way home from their Yosemite / Amtrak vacation. I’ll ask her if this is what I should expect.
Day 6-7, the weekend, MAR 28-29th
Had trouble BOTH days remembering to move the pickle jar around to all it’s locations! Got only 4hrs of sunning on Saturday. Did a bit better on Sunday. Guess my attention lasts less than a week (sigh). All three guys in my household (my hubby Bill, Marc & David – my sons) are taking turns bringing the pickle in from its last sunning spot at our front door. They don’t want anyone stealing our precious pickle!
Spring has arrived in northern California. The morning sun’s angle is changing quickly throughout the house, so have cut one pickle-stop off the ‘wanderings’ routine.
Days 8-9, Monday & Tuesday, MAR 30th-31st
The sauce is getting thick and sort of creamy, not juicy like it was when this process started. Smells really GOOD! Asked Manisha via Facebook, if I need to add more lemon juice? She replied “Add more juice only if you need more tang. The juices thicken and cling to the lemon pieces. It should not be runny at all. Out here in Colorado, it cooks in about 3 weeks as the summer sun is so intense.”