Living in Consciousness ~ Indi(r)a’s Food and Garden Weblog

Lime Pickle

We Indians make pickle out of almost everything from mangoes to fish. “Even if we don’t have anything to eat, we can survive on pickle and rice” is the common dialogue in our Telugu movies between love struck hero and heroine. Father of the heroine always cautions her against hero, “If you marry him, you know what will happen to you, you have to live on pickles”. Pickles are that common in our household.

Lime pickle is particularly good because it is tangy and hot at the same time. Tastes good with dal, rasam and sambhar and on boiled eggs.

My version of lime pickle:

Lime Pickle

Take 12 limes. Wash and pat them dry. Take 4 out of them, cut them and squeeze the juice in a cup, keep aside. Cut the remaining 8 limes into 4 or 8 wedges depending on their size.

Mix the cut pieces with 6 teaspoons iodine free salt, and lime juice. Mix thoroughly. Take them in a clean, dry glass or porcelain jar with tight lid. Keep them tightly covered for about 4 days.

On 5th day - dry roast 1 tsp each of cumin, mustard and fenugreek (methi) seeds grind them to fine powder. Add this powder into the jar along with pinch of turmeric and 5 tsp of red chilli powder; mix thoroughly with a clean dry spoon.

Keep the lid tight for another 3 days, so that the lime wedges can absorb all the flavors and soften. (This time period depends on the thickness of lime rinds. If they are thin, they will soften up within a week and if they are thick, they would take atleast a month. My recipe is prepared with thin skinned, juicy limes and they changed from hard to firmly-soft in a short time.)

After that time period and just before serving the pickle:
Heat 4 tsp of oil, toast one teaspoon of mustard seeds in oil until they start to crackle and then turn off the heat. Bring this seasoned oil to room temperature and then add this oil to the pickle. Mix well and thouroughly. Serve and enjoy with rice, dal and ghee.

Pickling is like making jam. Take extra precaution in using the dry utensils, jar, spoons and your hands. Using the wet or damp things is a sure way to spoil the pickle.

I’d like to contribute something to SHF but I don’t know any sugary dishes with citrus except lemon juice with honey. So this is my hot not sugary citrus contribution to SHF. Thanks Stephanie for the suggestion.

To clear the confusion, Lemon in India = Lime in US.

Added on June 06:

Thin skinned and juicy limes are preferred for this type of pickle.

If you find them still firm even after 15 days - keep them undisturbed for one to two months -they will sure get softened. And you need to see that sufficient limejuice and salt is avialble for softening process. The pickle should never look dried out at any stage. Traditionally at our homes in India, minimum two months are given for pickles to soften and juiced up.

Usually finely ground pickle masala (cumin, mustard and fenugreek (methi) and red chilli powder) is added. And you can adjust the amount of this ground spice pickle masala to suit your taste.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Limes/Lemons, Amma & Authentic Andhra (Friday May 20, 2005 at 10:58 am- permalink)

The New Home of Mahanandi:

67 comments for Lime Pickle »

  1. Have you entered this in Sugar High Friday? It’s citrus!

    Comment by Stephanie — May 20, 2005 @ 1:56 pm

  2. After visiting your blog, I came to know about SHF. I don’t know whether I can submit this hot (no sugar) recipe to SHF.

    Comment by Indira — May 20, 2005 @ 2:17 pm

  3. Wow Indira! I love your blog. I love the photography, and the recipes. I’ve just got back from a month in Delhi (2nd time India) doing a street food project and I’m absolutely enamoured with Indian food. Please talk about Golgappa, one of the most amazing foods - liquid pastry or pastry soup!

    Comment by Debra Solomon — May 21, 2005 @ 1:36 am

  4. I’m from culiblog dot org btw.

    Comment by debra - culiblog — May 21, 2005 @ 1:37 am

  5. Hey

    u have a nice blog.

    Hope to see this in telugu, if u are interested.

    telugu blogs

    Comment by kiran kumar Chava — May 21, 2005 @ 2:32 am

  6. Debra Solomon- Thanks. I am from South India, I am sorry to say that I don’t know about golgappa. I will find about it from my North Indian friends, post a recipe about it.
    Kiran Kumar Chava- Thanks for connecting me to Telugu blogs. What an interesting collection.

    Comment by Indira — May 21, 2005 @ 1:24 pm

  7. Indira, love your post. I have to make this. Love pickles so much! Can this be made with limes (green ones) available here?

    Comment by Mika — May 21, 2005 @ 5:20 pm

  8. Oops, limes and lemons. What we call lemons in India are limes here, I forgot.

    Comment by Indira — May 21, 2005 @ 8:47 pm

  9. These sound wonderful! Thanks for participating, it will indeed make a fine entry! I’m still confused though…I’m not sure if you used what I call a lemon or what I call a lime…hmm.

    Comment by Alice — May 22, 2005 @ 11:28 am

  10. I made lime pickle but posted as lemon pickle. After Mikas comment changed it to its rightful US name. Immigrant confusion.

    Comment by Indira — May 22, 2005 @ 2:58 pm

  11. Hi Indira,
    This is such a clean blog on andhra food with great pictures, do you have a recipe for karela (kakarakaya) fry?

    Comment by Vasudeva Ginjala — May 23, 2005 @ 2:58 pm

  12. Indira:

    Can you tell me if you made this with the green ones or the yellow ones?



    Comment by Samatha — December 30, 2005 @ 2:43 pm

  13. Hi Sam… They are green ones, the limes.

    Comment by Indira — December 30, 2005 @ 2:52 pm

  14. Indira, I’m planning to make this pickle today using your recipe.

    I have a question - You squeezed the juice out of the first four limes. I see that the juice is used. Are the lime covers (for lack of better name) used too? I mean the part remn after the juice is squeezed out. I dont think so, but being a beginner pickle maker, I really dont know. want to confirm before making the pickle. Can you help pls.

    Comment by Kay — January 24, 2006 @ 8:29 am

  15. Hi Kay…
    I did discard the rinds(lime covers), after squeezing the juice. Some tips for you:

    1.I used ripe, very juicy limes for this particular recipe. The more juice you pore, the tasty the final pickle will be. So if you think, there is not enough juice from your 4 limes, squeeze some more. Add atleast 1/2 cup to 1 cup(US) of lime juice.

    2.I made it little bit hot, my preference. Check the red chilli powder to your taste. Salt measurements are ok.

    3. I can’t stress enough of moisture free environment, everything, make sure there is not a hint of moisture anywhere near the vicinity of pickle. Jar, spoons etc., Pick only fresh, spot free limes only, for this pickle. This and moisture free is very important to prevent any onset of fungus.
    Enjoy pickling!

    Comment by Indira — January 24, 2006 @ 8:43 am

  16. Wow! Thanks for the quick response and more help, Indira.

    One more question - should i make pickle from limes directly out of the shop or can i use refrigerated ones too? will that make any difference?

    Indira replies…
    You are welcome, Kay.
    I used storebought fresh limes. Refrigerated ones, I’m not sure about the end result, again that’s only a guess. I never used them before.
    Do you get key limes? They are perfect for our kind of pickle. In Houston, I used to make small batches of pickle with them. Their skin is so much thin, almost like Indian limes and they taste very good.

    Comment by Kay — January 24, 2006 @ 9:36 am

  17. Thanks Indira! I’m going to try your pickle recipe with store bought fresh limes.

    I once bought a bag of lemons and tried to make pickles out of them using Grandma’s simple method. I think they were key limes, because they were so tiny and juicy, but I might be wrong too. After which, I’ve never seen those again here (Charlotte, Nc) Apparently, Grandma’s method works only for juicy, Indian lemons. The pickles turned out okay but slightly bitter. After that episode, I havent tried making pickles at all.

    Thanks again, Indira! :) I’ll try yours and let you know how it turns out.

    Comment by Kay — January 24, 2006 @ 10:14 am

  18. Indira, check out

    It is yummmmmmmmy! Thank you very very much! :)

    Indira replies…
    I’ve just checked your site. Pickling is not easy and my kudos to you for successfully trying out this recipe.

    Comment by Kay — February 8, 2006 @ 3:12 pm

  19. […] Update: if, like jr, you’ve no idea what lime pickle is, here’s a recipe and picture. Now it occurs to me I could make my own; has anyone reverse-engineered the Marks and Spencer recipe? posted on Monday, April 24th, 2006 at 1:29 pm comments […]

    Pingback by Crooked Timber » » Lime Pickle and Peanut Butter Sandwiches. — April 24, 2006 @ 2:45 pm

  20. Indira, thank you! I have always wanted to try making pickle and this is quite is to follow. Thanks, I’ll post my results when it’s ready.

    Indira replies:
    Hello Jonny, you are welcome! Looking forward to your gorgeous photos and reading your post about lime pickle. Thanks.

    Comment by Evil Jonny — June 10, 2006 @ 6:00 pm

  21. Hi Indira:

    I’m at Day 5 now and I just added the spices, but I’m a little concerned that the mixture seems dry. Will more of the juices come out as the next few days pass, or should I add some more lime juice?

    Indira replies:
    Hello Jonny: Usually by now, the pickle should be juicy. If not, do add lime juice and mix. The more you add, the juicier it gets and that’s what we want in a pickle. Also don’t foget to adjust the seasoning, mainly salt. Pickle should never be dry at any stage.

    Comment by Evil Jonny — June 14, 2006 @ 11:11 pm

  22. Thanks for walking me through! I added more juice and a little more salt, and it’s looking more and more like your picture now. Thanks.

    Comment by Evil Jonny — June 15, 2006 @ 10:50 am

  23. Dear Indira
    I have just made a simple lemon pickle with yellow lemons from our tree. We had some yesterdy with garlic prawns and it was delicious. I am just a bit stuck on how to use it, especially in vegetable dishes. Have you any suggestions?
    Thank you Patricia

    Comment by Patricia — June 19, 2006 @ 2:54 am

  24. Hi Indira,
    Living on a 330 acre farm with more then 4000 lime trees, it is almost a must to use your recipe of the lime pickle! At two points I’m a little confused: the Indians here call the fruits ‘limes’, as I notice the same as ‘lime’ in Europe and ‘elumich-champarlaim’ in Tamil, so I’m not sure about with fruit you are talking. As for the other question, I’d like to make large amounds of pickles, the hygiene part is clear with me, but the last step of popping the mustard seeds in oil and add them later before serving is not clear with me, can I also add them later and mix it in the jar and close them and use the pickle after a more long time?
    For the rest: I like yor site very much!

    Thanks and warm regards,


    Comment by Suzanne — June 19, 2006 @ 3:22 am

  25. This is my version of Golgappa.
    Making the small puffed mini puri is the msot difficult.So you get them ready made in india.If not try making the mini puris at home.
    For the filling you allow your imagination. Normally its mashed pottatoes some boiled peas,pomegranate,coriander leaves.Now the golgappa is broken on top and filled with the above foilling. You then por the spicy water, which is made of tamarind, jaggery,salt,some indian sumer concentarates like jhaljeheers concentrate.
    The liquid that goes in i another which you can try inumeberable combibations. Now th finale is droping the whole stuff in your mouth and try imitataing a python dislocating its jaw and swl;low the prey. Nirvana on a summer day.
    have fun

    Comment by shyam — June 24, 2006 @ 6:04 am

  26. Hi Indira…
    i really adore ur recipes n pics r so amazing which invites me to try them immmediately.just now i have added spices to my limes n eagerly waiting for the result.thnx for ur wonderfull recipes which makes me feel at home here in US.

    Comment by naaz — September 7, 2006 @ 3:35 pm

  27. What a great blog - first time visitor/commenter… My friend’s mom suggested I use asafoetida to make lime pickle with… As a Russian, who didn’t grow up making Indian food, I’m not sure what that spice is and whether or not you have ever used it in cooking, especially making pickle.

    Comment by radish — November 30, 2006 @ 10:39 am

  28. Indira,

    Two questions:

    1) Is the fenugreek neccessary? I not fond of this indian spice (but I like the rest!).

    2) What signs, tastes, symptoms should one look for if one is worried about spoilage?


    Comment by Jeff — December 14, 2006 @ 7:15 pm

  29. Hi Indira,

    Thanks for the wonderful recipe - your photo inspired me to try to make this today! We are transplants to the US from the UK, and it is really hard to find good Indian cuisine over here. However, I did find Key limes. I used about 2lb for this recipe, which was about 40 limes - I quartered 2/3 of them and juiced the remainder. This amount makes about 3 cups or 1.5 liters of pickle, judging by the level of fruit in my preserving jars. Of course it make shrink and collapse a bit… I can’t wait to see how it turns out!

    If you will forgive me butting in on Radish and Jeff’s questions:

    Radish, asafoetida is also known as hing. It is a smelly gum which can be bought online in powdered form. When heated a little, it adds a garlicky/oniony rich taste to food. You can substitute a little garlic, garlic powder or onion powder if you want. Or leave it out.

    Jeff, fenugreek is a common ingredient in many curries and condiments, but it is not essential. Put whatever you want in this pickle. I have seen recipes for lime pickle with cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, fennel and many other spices in them. Just search for “lime pickle recipe” on Google, you will see what I mean! Spoilage in pickles is generally fungal growth. If you see slimy white, black or greenish/grey mounds and threads on top of the pickle, discard it. Same if the lid of the jar deforms outward under pressure, or if you hear a hiss of gas escaping as you open the lid. However, this is unlikely if you are careful as Indira described, especially as the acid of the limes and also the salt help to “preserve” the pickle. Once the pickle has matured (soft skins and flavours merged), it will keep more safely in the fridge.

    Thanks again, Indira. You are an inspiration!


    Comment by Dawn — February 1, 2007 @ 8:12 pm

  30. Oops, make that quantity above 6 cups or 1.5 liters! ;-)


    Comment by Dawn — February 1, 2007 @ 8:20 pm

  31. Is it possible to make lime pickle using Kaffir Limes?



    Comment by Gordon — March 17, 2007 @ 2:37 pm

  32. Hi Indira,
    I have these lemons which are the size of a navel orange!! can I use this to make a pickle? i also do not hv iodine free salt.. can I still manage without it?

    Comment by Manasi — March 21, 2007 @ 12:00 pm

  33. Hi Indira,

    Many thanks for a wonderful and very useful website. I remember vividly lime pickle that is served as part of curd rice food packets in railway stations, particularly south India. That appears to be a fast-food type pickle. I am interested in the recipe. I suspect it uses steamed limes and raw spices. On the same note I used to enjoy cucumber chutney with raw mustard and may be other spices as well.



    Comment by Aswartha — April 8, 2007 @ 11:09 am

  34. Hi Indira,

    Should the lime juice cover all the limes? I follow exactly what you have suggested but find the juice does not even cover half the limes in the bottle. If I were to squeeze some more lime juice,how much more salt should I add? Last question I promise, do I still add the rest of the spices on the 5th day?

    First timer.

    Comment by Sherlane — April 9, 2007 @ 3:25 am

  35. Hi Indra,
    Hope you would have tried the lemon pickle served in pitsburgh temple…
    I am longing if you could post a recipe for that..?

    Comment by Sowmya Baskar — April 23, 2007 @ 1:54 pm

  36. […] Check these recipes for Lime Pickles: Manisha’s Maharashtrian Lime Pickle Musical’s Punjabi Lime Pickle Indira’s Andhra Lime Pickle […]

    Pingback by When Life Gives You Limes… « A Mad Tea Party — June 29, 2007 @ 11:37 am

  37. Hi Indira,

    I love your website, cook a lot from it. I just ran into the lime pickle Aachar recipe. Can you please tell me, whether this is the same pickling solution as making e.g. green chili pickle? If not, could you please post one? I simply love Green Chili pickle.



    Comment by Zlamushka — July 1, 2007 @ 6:15 am

  38. […] When we planned to make lime pickles, we couldn’t decide between these two recipes. We ended up making both, and it was a wise decision. The first was ready in a little over a week, and we enjoyed it while the latter cooked in the sun. […]

    Pingback by Lime Pickles » jugalbandi — July 10, 2007 @ 7:38 pm

  39. Can I use Lime Juice in a bottle to make Pickles?

    Comment by Pat Duval — August 2, 2007 @ 9:31 am

  40. […] Gaining courage at every step, I have tried different pickles after that - maangai thokku (the quintessential raw mango pickle), and different varieties of lemon pickle, including this and this. I was not blogging then and never took any pictures - how I regret that now! This time around I was not going to let the opportunity pass by, atleast not without making an entry for the JFI: Chillies and a picture […]

    Pingback by Lemon & Chillies… err Chilli powder — December 27, 2007 @ 9:19 am

  41. thanks for the lime pickle recipe - I love lime pickle (and I mean lime not lemon LOL)
    I’m going to try this with red grapefruits - any cautions?

    Hello James,
    Red grapefruit? Very interesting, and you have made me curious.
    If you follow this recipe to prepare grapefruit pickle, please do share your experience here.
    Thanks in advance.
    - Indira

    Comment by James — January 4, 2008 @ 6:17 pm

  42. Should we keep pickle during process and after process in the refrigerator or at just on the room at room temperature

    Hello Jay,
    during and after, only at room temperature.

    Comment by Jay — January 24, 2008 @ 3:32 pm

  43. When pickling the limes do you keep them at room temperature or do you refrigerate them?

    Comment by Joy — July 19, 2008 @ 1:44 pm

  44. Am eating some Grandmas White Lime Pickle and have realized I like the whole tiny chilis as well as the limes. Any recipes for pickled sour tasting chilis?

    Comment by Mike — August 29, 2008 @ 6:58 pm

  45. Hi Indira,
    I made ur pickle, it came out perfect, thanks to share ur traditional recipe.

    Comment by Cham — September 4, 2008 @ 5:30 pm

  46. Hello

    Is it OK to eat the actual lime skin?

    Comment by Sarah — November 9, 2009 @ 7:16 am

  47. hai indira,i am in uk and i browse ur site almost everyday,i love it,i was looking for lime pickle today but i want to know the recipe for lime pickle without mixing chilli powder. can u please reply.

    Hi Sree, my mother in law makes that type of lime pickle. I haven’t blogged about it, will do during next lemon season.

    Comment by sree — December 1, 2009 @ 10:02 am

  48. Greetings Indira, Wow. I decided to make a few pickles with the abundance of limes in our yard. Just looking for a recipe when I stumbled onto your fantastic blog. Congratulations! I’m amazed at the interest in just lime pickles! I have many questions, too, but I’m just going to go for it and sort out the details experimentally. Thanks for the recipe. Patty

    Comment by Patty Burlingame — December 23, 2009 @ 4:43 pm

  49. G’Day, Is it possible to make lime pickle from kafir limes? I have some but not sure what to do with them.

    Comment by Jean — June 23, 2010 @ 3:03 am

  50. Hi Indira,
    I am silent reader of your website. I have quick question and hoping you will address it.
    I have preaprd lime pickel (mentioned in your new website), but after 1 week when I tasted it is so bitter.
    Can I mix at this stage more lime juice and salt.

    thanks ahead.

    Comment by Unz — August 27, 2010 @ 9:27 am

  51. Do you have any recipes for kaffir lime pickles ?

    Comment by tom — December 4, 2010 @ 2:45 pm

  52. Thanks Indira. I am a curious to know why you recommend iodine free salt for the lime recipe.

    I am in the process of pickling following your recipe. In Auckland now is the season for really juicy thick skinned lime/ lemons.

    Comment by pushpa — July 20, 2011 @ 6:35 pm

  53. What a fabulous blog Indira,

    I have just bought a yoghurt maker and now want to make everything homemade including paneer, cheese and cottage cheese. I love lime pickle but normally buy it, so will try your lovely recipe. Thank you to everyone for giving their handy hints and tips, its a great help when you are trying to make something for the first time.

    Comment by Angela — May 12, 2012 @ 5:43 am

  54. I love lime pickle but usually buy it,but not now i will try this lovely recipe.Making is very very easy and it has wonderful taste.thank you very much.

    Comment by yashoda — August 17, 2012 @ 5:45 am

  55. Help!! I have just gone through the epic process of making the traditional lime pickle. It tasted great before putting in the jar to sit for a week. It’s now a week later and the pickle seems to be growing! It’s leaking oil and when I took the lid off one of them it was bubbling! I know there is a certain amount of fermentation which is meant to take place, but should it continue in the jar?

    Comment by Tom — November 19, 2012 @ 4:49 pm

  56. […] […]

    Pingback by Can water cause fermented pickles to spoil? - The Simple Life — March 11, 2015 @ 9:09 am

  57. I tried this back in 2006 and loved it. So easy to do with fantastic results. Now some years later 2015 I have been searching for this same recipe and feel thrilled to finally find it. My jar of salty chunky limes have just taken their place in my conservatory, day 1, and I’m sitting here with hands smelling of limes knowing I have a few hot summer months (hopefully) to wait until I taste your fantastic lime pickle again. Many thanks indeed

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  60. I am trying to make pickles for the first time, your recipe seems easy to follow. I enjoy the delicious flavour of store bought Indian recipe Pickled limes and as my Kaffir lime tree is an abundant of fruit. Kaffir Lime has thin skin and hardly any white pith. I guess this lime will be ideal.
    A question, I noticed some recipes require the jars to be sitting in the sun or on the window sill for light and others to be placed in a dark cook place. Could you please advise me on what I should do with my pickles while it is going through the pickling stage. Thank you.

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