I know the phrase goes, when life hands you lemons, make lemonade! Well, it’s citrus season here in California and right now life, via the CSA, is handing me a LOT of lemons. I like lemonade and all, but I can’t handle a couple glasses a day. Plus, I have fun recreating expensive ingredients from gourmet stores from things I already have on hand. For example, last year I made 4 bottles of limoncello, which I’m still trying to finish off. Lately I’ve been interested in Afghani cooking and I read they use a lot of lemon pickles. I look more into it, and it turns out lemon pickles are also used in Indian and Northern African cooking as well, both categories of food I like. I got this recipe from localfoods.about.com and can’t wait to start using them.
Meyer lemons are best for making pickles since they’re thinner skinned and less bitter, but use whatever is on hand. Try to buy organic lemons, since you’ll be using the skin of these, and scrub any wax off thoroughly. I made this batch over the course of an evening and my house smelled AMAZING for a few days after.
Spicy Lemon Pickles
- 4 lbs lemons
- ¼ cup kosher salt + 2 tsp (iodine free is the important part here)
- 4 quarts water
- ½ tsp crushed red pepper
- 1 quart glass jar or 2 pint glass jars
Juice lemons and reserve liquid.
Bring water, ¼ cup salt and lemons to a boil. Simmer covered for 15 minutes, then turn off the heat and allow to rest for 1 hour undisturbed.
Drain lemons, scrape out pulp and pith (a.k.a. get rid of all the stringy stuff), then slice rinds into bite-sized pieces.
In a large bowl, toss rinds with remaining salt and red pepper. Place mixture in glass jar then pour reserved lemon juice over to cover. If there’s not enough to cover, add commercially prepared lemon juice.
Leave at room temperature for 2 to 7 days, then store in refrigerator for up to 6 months.