Pickling has always been a family affair. Many summer days were spent making pickles. Mangoes, lemon, ginger, grapefruit, gooseberries, chillies, pepper and so many variaties of pickle. And every pickle has it’s own method and flavour.
I have always stayed away from making pickles. Because it is too tedious, because I don’t eat too much pickle and because I always felt I can never never make pickle like my mom or aunt or grandmom.
This time my father forced me to give it a try and guess what, it is not that tough afterall. I did manage to make Lemon Pickle successfully.
1 kg – Fresh, crisp lemons.
1/4 kg – Salt
5 to 6 – Green chillies
3 tbsp – Red chillie powder
2 tbsp – oil
1 tbsp – Mustard seeds
1 tsp – Asafoetida
Wash and air dry the lemons. There should be no moisture AT ALL in them.
Wash the bottle in which you want to pickle with hot water and air dry it completely. Overnight preferably.
Next day wipe the lemons dry to make sure it is completely dry. Even a small drop of water will spoil the pickle.
Put a two layers of the chopped lemon. Now spread rock salt over it making sure you cover the lemons. Around a hand full of salt after the lemons.
Cover the bottle with tight lids and leave it in the sun for a week. Keep shaking it once in a day. You will see that the salt will start melting and the lemon pieces will start softening and the colour changes. The lemon pieces will start soaking the salt.
This is the stage we will have to add the spice.
We will need to make a red chilly paste to add to the pickle. Depending on how much water has been let out by the lemons, you will need to add more water. If there is enough water in the bottle then you do not have to add more. If there is not much water then you will have to.
If using water, boil water and cool it completely and grind the chilly powder with it to a smooth paste. If you are not using water then you can grind the powder using the salt water from the bottle (no need to boil this) . Be sure to use a completely dry spoon to take out the water.
Add this paste to the jar and give it a good mix. Taste it to check for salt and spice. At this stage if you feel it needs more salt, boil salt along with some water, cool it completely and then add it.
For tempering, heat oil in a pan. Add asafoetida and mustard seeds and let it crackle. Pour it over the pickle and give it a good mix. Cover the jar and leave it in a cool dark place for a month, for the lemon pieces to soak up all the spice.
Keep giving the pickle a mix once in a while using clean dry spoon. The pieces should be soft to bite and that is when it is done.
Transfer it into smaller jars for use. Any kind of moisture will spoil the pickle and hence it is a good idea to transfer the pickle to a smaller jar for use.