DRY SALTED LIME
Dry salted lime pickles are produced in Asia and Africa. They are particularly popular in India,
Pakistan and North Africa. The limes are treated with dry salt which extracts the juice from the
fruit to create a brine. The salted limes are left to ferment, during which time lactic acid bacteria
grow and multiply, producing lactic acid as a by-product. The lactic acid gives the pickle its
sour taste and also acts as a preservative. The final product is a sour lime pickle. Various spices
are added to the pickle depending on local preference. In India and Pakistan, the pickle is
usually very spicy and hot due to the chilli added. It is usually eaten as a condiment.
The dry salting method is used for pickling many vegetables and fruits including limes, lemons
and cucumbers. For dry salt pickling, any variety of common salt is suitable as long as it is pure.
Impurities or additives can cause the following problems:
Chemicals to reduce caking should not be used as they make the brine cloudy.
Lime impurities can reduce the acidity of the final product and reduce the shelf life of the
Iron impurities can result in the blackening of the vegetables.
Magnesium impurities impart a bitter taste.
Carbonates can result in pickles with a soft texture
This technical brief should be read together with ‘Pickled fruits’ which gives an overview of the
process of lactic acid fermentation of fruit and vegetables.
Raw material preparation
Select fully ripe limes that are free from bruising or damage. Wash the limes in potable cold
water and drain. It is important that the water used for washing is clean – boiled water is ideal –
to avoid contamination of the brine by water-borne bacteria. Chlorinated water should not be
used for washing the fruit as this could prevent the natural fermentation taking place.
Cut each lime into quarters or make four slits on the skin.
All spices used should be of good quality and free of mould.
Place a layer of cut limes in a fermentation container (a large plastic barrel or bucket). Cover
with a layer of salt. Use 1 kg of salt for every 4kg limes. Add another layer of limes and cover
with salt. Continue with this layering process until the container is three quarters full, finishing
with a layer of salt. Place a cloth on top of the lime and salt. Add a heavy weight on top to
compress the fruit down and assist with the formation of a brine. The brine is formed as the juice
from the limes is drawn out and mixes with the salt. This takes about 24 hours depending upon
the ambient temperature. As soon as the brine is formed, fermentation starts and bubbles of
carbon dioxide appear. Stand the container in a warm sunny place for a week to allow the
fermentation to continue. A temperature of 21°C is ideal for lactic acid fermentation.
Fermentation is complete when no more bubbles appear.
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