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Lime Pickle Recipe

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Once you try this lime pickle, you won’t go back to shop bought!

Once you try this lime pickle, you won’t go back to shop bought!

I really recommend scrolling down and looking at all the step by step photos of this delicious lime pickle recipe. There are a few steps to this recipe but I have photographed them all for you.

This lime pickle goes fantastically well with my easy poppadom recipe and my homemade poppadoms. If making those, you might also like to add a few more chutneys or raitas.

Want an easy meal? This lime pickle is also amazing served simply of plain or flavoured Basmati rice. Or you could serve it in a wrap with homemade naans or chapatis, chicken tikka or lamb tikka or keema.

Lime pickle being served with other raitas and pickles and poppadoms

This lime pickle just plain gets it! I always have some on hand.

Why make your own lime pickle?

There was a time when I always had a supermarket brand name jar of lime pickle in the fridge.

These days I make my own and believe me the taste is so much better.

This recipe was taught to me by the chef of our local tandoori. He too used to serve those name brand pickles but now swears by this recipe.

My lime pickle recipe makes quite a lot but the pickle lasts indefinitely in a sterilised jar in a cool dark place such as a cupboard to the fridge.

How is this lime pickle different to shop bought?

Mass produced lime pickles can be good. Nothing wrong with them. But, and this is a big but, you know you are in a good Indian restaurant if they make their own pickles, chutneys and raitas.

If you are like me, you will taste that familiar flavour that the mass produced pickles have. You can probably taste when it’s Pataks and why would you want to pay over the odds for something you can purchase yourself from a jar?

This lime pickle tastes fresh and authentic because it is. Placing the lime pickle in the sun to ferment like they do in India and carefully frying the spices, before stirring them in makes this a lime pickle that is hard to compete with. 

No mass produced brand can do that!

You can make this lime pickle chunky or smooth.

Personally, I like my lime pickle chunky. Biting into those chunks of spicy lime is so tasty!

You might prefer a smoother pickle. That’s no problem at all.

Just follow the recipe exactly as written. Then blend the finished lime pickle until smooth. That’s all you have to do.

How long can you keep this lime pickle in the fridge

It should last for months. It’s a pickle after all. If you are planning on keeping it for a long time, I recommend spooning the finished lime pickle into smaller jars. 

Then you can use up one jar at a time while keeping the other stored in the fridge with a tight fitting lid.

Can you freeze lime pickle?

Perhaps surprisingly yes. It’s not something I do often or even recommend but you can do it.

I tested it once and thought the frozen pickle, one defrosted taste pretty good.

Step by step photographs…

Ingredients for lime pickle

Get all your ingredients together before starting. It’s easier that way.

Stabbing limes with a fork in preparation for the pickle

Stab each lime about four or five times with a fork.

Chopped limes in mixing bowl.

Slice each lime into about 10 pieces and place in a mixing bowl.

Adding chopped garlic to the mixing bowl.

Add all the chopped garlic and ginger to the bowl.

Adding chilli powder and salt

Then add the chilli powder and salt.

What about all that salt?

You might notice that it is quite salty. Lime pickles have been served for hundreds of years and they are usually salty in flavour.

Think of this lime pickle and others like it like you would salt. Use it as you would salt.

Instead of adding salt to plain white rice, serve it with some of this pickle.

Serving rice in this way is how it is done all over India. It’s a vegetarian meal in its own right! The salt also help preserve the pickle.

Squeezing juice from the limes and garlic

Squeeze this lime mixture with your hands to extract as much juice as possible.

Juice from limes and garlic

You will be left with loads of juice in the bowl. Transfer the squeezed limes and garlic to a steamer.

Steaming the limes and garlic

Steam the limes and garlic for about 15 to 20 minutes or until the limes are becoming quite soft.

Lime pickle in the sun

Pour the steamed lime mixture into a jar and stir in the juice from the mixing bowl. Allow to sit, covered in the sun for 2 days, stirring every 12 hours.

Now it’s time to finish this pickle off!

After two days of fermenting the limes in the sun, bring the jar indoors.

Time to make this lime pickle taste amazing.

Frying mustard seeds.

Heat the oil over a high heat and stir in the mustard seeds.

Frying mustard seeds in oil

When the mustard seeds begin to crackle, add the cumin seeds and asafoetida. Infuse for 30 seconds and take off the heat.

Fermenting lime pickle

Pour the oil and spices into the lime pickle. Be careful. You might want to cool it some before adding. Set in sun for 2 more days.

What other uses are there for lime pickle?

Sometimes I add this tasty pickle to my curries as well.

Again, do this before you add salt. It is delicious stirred into a curry like my curry house style chicken Madras for example.

It takes some time to make this lime pickle but it’s worth the wait!

Now let’s tackle the one thing that scares a lot of people off making this. It takes about four days and then it is best not to serve it for another week for optimum flavour.

Put that out of your head and make it. I promise… you’ll be glad you did.

Make a huge batch and keep it in the fridge for when you need it. I often double or even triple this recipe. I like it that much.

Hope you do too! Enjoy.

Thinking of a great gift for a friend?

Every year I make a few huge batches of this pickle along with a few others. 

As the delicious pickle keeps for ages, there is no rush to give them away. 

Simply make them up and put the lime pickle into some attractive sterilised jars and you have a gift that any curry fan would love.

What’s more, you made it yourself which makes the gift even more special. 

If you like the look of this delicious lime pickle, you might like to try these…

Indian Mixed Vegetable Pickle
Easy lemon pickle
Chickpea, Garlic and Carrot Pickle

Lime pickle

So good and really not a lot of work!

Lime pickle on a poppadum

Time for a curry feast! Dig in!

Yield: 750ml (3 cups)

Lime Pickle Recipe

Lime pickle
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Additional Time 4 days
Total Time 4 days 45 minutes


  • 1kg (2 lbs) limes - stab holes in each lime and then cut into eight pieces
  • 5 level tbsp salt
  • 40 cloves of garlic - smashed
  • 50g (about a thumb sized piece) ginger, very finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp Kashmiri chilli powder - Or another and to taste
  • 150ml (scant 2/3 cup) rapeseed (canola) oil
  • 3 tbsp black mustard seeds
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • ½ teaspoon asafoetida


  1. Using a fork, stab about 20 holes in each lime, then cut each into 8 to 10 wedges. Place in a mixing bowl and add the garlic, ginger, salt and chilli powder
  2. Mix well with your hands, coating the limes and pressing down on them to release a lot of juice.
  3. Transfer the limes to a steamer, leaving the juice in the bowl, and steam for about 15 minutes until quite soft.
  4. Transfer the limes to a sterile glass jar and pour in the juices from the mixing bowl. Stir well.
  5. Cover tightly and set in the sun for two days or in a warm place like a kitchen window if the sun isn't cooperating. Stir every 10 to 12 hours to keep the limes coated with the juices.
  6. After two days, heat the oil for the tempering in a large frying pan over high heat. When visibly hot, stir in the mustard seeds. They will begin to crackle. When they do, stir in the cumin seeds and asafoetida and infuse for another 30 seconds.
  7. Allow to cools some and then pour this over the limes in the jar. Place back in a sunny spot, tightly covered for another two days.
  8. You can eat it immediately but the lime pickle will get even better if you allow it to sit in the fridge for another week before serving.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 19Total Fat: 1gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 1187mgCarbohydrates: 4gFiber: 2gSugar: 0gProtein: 1g

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Lime pickle


I hope you enjoy my lime pickle recipe. If you do try it, please leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you.


Monday 24th of June 2024

Hello, how would i go about jarring this? I thought it would need to be put in hot sterilized jars and the mixture be hot also?

Dan Toombs

Tuesday 25th of June 2024

Yes, that’s right, that’s how I store mine. Thanks Dan


Thursday 25th of April 2024

THANK you!! I followed your recipe and did exactly what you said except I made a 4 x batch. I wrapped my large jar in towels each evening after being in the sun and have decided it’s my “pet pickle”! It’s is SENSATIONAL and I’m as proud as can be with the result🙃 I love you for providing this recipe!!!

Dan Toombs

Thursday 25th of April 2024

Thanks very much, great to hear. Dan


Sunday 17th of September 2023

I have a question- May I use the Instant Pot to steam?

Dan Toombs

Wednesday 20th of September 2023

I have never tried but I see no reason why that wouldn't work. Thanks Dan

Nicolaas Stempels

Friday 23rd of December 2022

Excellent recipe, I've made it several times. One note of caution if you cut down the salt. I did that once, but it turned out not to be a smart move. After a week or so in the fridge it turned into the standing gardens of Babylon. Either stick to the salt, eat it within a few days, or regularly steam it again. I went for the first option ever since that misadventure.

Dan Toombs

Tuesday 27th of December 2022

Thanks for that. I have found that too with the salt so not a good idea to cut it down. Dan

Nicolaas Stempels

Sunday 24th of July 2022

An excellent recipe. I made it several times. I'd warn Marthe: I once cut seriously down on the salt, BIG mistake: after a week I had the standing gardens of Babylon. Had to throw everything away. It is not meant to eat as such, hence use less salt to the dishes you add it to. I also made some variations like adding a spoon of Xylitol (my children like it sweet). I use this recipe as the baseline recipe for my lime achar.

Dan Toombs

Tuesday 26th of July 2022

Thanks for letting me know. Yes, it sounds like a lot of salt but it is necessary. Dan

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