How To Make Small Batch Preserved Limes

fresh limes ad small batch preserved limes in glass mason jar with salt and spices

Preserved lemons are a popular ingredient, but have you thought about making preserved limes instead? Using just a few limes, salt and spices, these preserved limes are quick and easy to make and have a wonderful tangy flavour. Our small batch preserved limes recipe is an inexpensive and easy way to try your hand at making preserves and pickles.

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What are preserved limes?

Preserved limes, like preserved lemons, are a way to keep citrus fruit for longer. Salt combines with the acidic lime juice to preserve the rind of the lime. Adding some spices to the preserving mix adds some more subtle flavours and creates a truly wonderful condiment to add interest to your favourite dishes.

While preserved lemons largely keep their yellow colour, preserved limes do tend to oxidize more and darken to brown.

Small batch preserved lime ingredients

To make these simple small batch preserved limes, you’ll need just a few ingredients:

  • 5 fresh limes (4 to cut, and one for juice)
  • 1/4 cup sea salt (or other non-iodized salt)
  • bay leaf
  • small fresh chili
  • 1/4 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 1/4 teaspoon cardamom seeds
Ingredients for preserved limes including salt, fresh limes, spices and chilli

For the limes, we’ve used Tahitian (Persian) limes as they have lots of juice. You can also preserve Makrut or even Kaffir limes. Whichever limes you use, it’s preferable to use organic or home grown. If you buy limes from the store, because this recipe uses the rinds you’ll need to remove any fruit wax first.

Sterilising jars

When making preserved limes, it is really important to use very clean, sterilised jars. Otherwise you risk bacteria in the jars causing mold.

Sterilising jars can be as simple as running the jars and metal lids through a hot wash in the dishwasher. If they aren’t quiet dry afterwards I’ll pop them on a tray in a warm oven for about to 15 minutes to finish off. If you don’t have a dishwasher, give your jars a good clean in hot soapy water instead. Then rinse well and place in the oven (as above) to dry.

For any lids with rubber seals or plastic, you can boil them in boiling water for 15 minutes and then air dry instead of using the dishwasher/oven.

Method

Sterilise a wide mouth mason jar before you start (I used a 1 pint /500ml size jar to leave enough room between the top of the limes and the lid).

Wash limes well and pat dry.

Slice 4 of the limes into quarters (lengthwise).

Place one Tablespoon of the sea salt at the bottom of the jar. Cover the salt with a layer of lime pieces and push down well with a wooden spoon to release some of the juice. Sprinkle another Tablespoon of salt and some of the peppercorns and cardamom seeds over the layer of limes.

Using a sharp knife, split the chili in half lengthwise. Slide the chili and the bay leaf down the side of the jar next to the limes.

Add another layer of lime pieces, salt, pepper and cardamom and push down again with the wooden spoon to release some juice. Continue layering in the same way until all of the limes have been added to the jar. Add any remaining salt and spices to the top.

Juice the remaining lime and add the juice to the jar to cover the lime. If you use a metal lid, make sure there is a gap between the top of the liquid and the lid to stop the lid from corroding.

Place the lid on the jar tightly and put your limes in cool place to mature.

Preserved limes will be ready to use after about 4-6 weeks. (when all the salt has dissolved).

This recipe makes a single jar (about 1/2 pint) of preserved limes.

small batch preserved limes in jar with spices and fresh limes

How to use preserved limes

Now that you have made your own gourmet preserved limes at home, how do you use them?

During preserving, the fleshy pulp of the lime will soak up the salt. The part of the lime that you want to use is actually the preserved rind.

Take some preserved lime from your jar, remove the flesh with a knife and discard. You can then cut up the rind and use it. Preserved lime is best used raw not cooked to maintain the beautiful flavour.

Chopped preserved lime is a wonderful addition to marinades and dressings, especially with lamb or grilled fish and chicken. Preserved limes are also a natural addition to Mexican dishes, including tacos, and go wonderfully with Indian flavours. They can also be substituted for preserved lemons in many recipes, including Moroccan tagines.

How long do preserved limes keep?

Preserved limes will last a very long time in the jar if unopened, up to a year or more. Once opened, store preserved limes in the fridge. They should keep for up to 2 months. Make sure that you use a clean spoon or fork to take out any limes when cooking to keep the jar clean and ensure your limes last longer.

The great thing about this small batch preserved limes recipe is that you won’t have any trouble using up the limes before they are past their best.

More recipes and ways to use limes

Still have lots of limes to use up? Learn how you can freeze limes for later or try our easy recipe for lime marmalade.

For more citrus recipes with lime juice, you’ll love our citrus fruit salad with vanilla cardamom syrup or find lots of delicious citrus recipes on our recipes page.

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Preserved limes in glass jar with chili and spices

How To Make Small Batch Preserved Limes

Citrus Spot
Easy recipe for a single jar of salt preserved limes with spices
Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Course Condeiments and Sauces
Servings 4
Calories 93 kcal

Equipment

  • 1 Mason jar (1 pint / 500ml)
  • sharp knife
  • chopping board
  • citrus juicer
  • measuring spoons and cups

Ingredients
  

  • 5 limes (4 to cut and one for juice)
  • 1/4 cup sea salt (or other non iodized salt)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 small red chili
  • 1/4 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 1/4r teaspoon cardamom seeds

Instructions
 

  • Sterilise a wide mouth mason jar before you start (1 pint /500ml size).
  • Wash limes well and pat dry.
  • Slice 4 of the limes into quarters (lengthwise).
  • Place one Tablespoon of the sea salt at the bottom of the jar. Cover the salt with a layer of lime pieces and push down well with a wooden spoon to release some of the juice. Sprinkle another Tablespoon of salt and some of the peppercorns and cardamom seeds over the layer of limes.
  • Using a sharp knife, split the chili in half lengthwise. Slide the chili and the bay leaf down the side of the jar next to the limes.
  • Add another layer of lime pieces, salt, pepper and cardamom and push down again with the wooden spoon to release some juice. Continue layering in the same way until all of the limes have been added to the jar. Add any remaining salt and spices to the top.
  • Juice the remaining lime and add the juice to the jar to cover the limes. If you use a metal lid, make sure there is a gap between the top of the liquid and the lid to stop the lid from corroding.
  • Place the lid on the jar tightly and put your limes in cool place for 4 to 6 weeks (all of the salt should have dissolved).

Notes

To Use – remove the flesh/pulp from limes with a knife and discard. Use preserved rind uncooked.
Preserved limes will last up to a year or more unopened. Once opened, store in the fridge for up to 2 months. 
Keyword condiment, lime, preserve

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