Salt Preserved Limes

When the citrus is abundant and cheap it’s hard to say no to limes at the grocery store.   I found a few bags of organic limes in the discount bin of my local organic grocery store.  If you find such a bounty, this is a really good way to preserve the goodness, and enjoy them when the season is passed.

Fermented limes can be preserved like lemons in salt.  It’s both easy and satisfying to have a jar in the fridge.  The green skin color of salt preserved limes is more yellow than green, as the acid pH shifts the skin color.  But the taste is limey.  They add a distinctive lime flavor to sauces, stews, poultry, seafood, salad dressings and guacamole.

Fermented limes are distinctive in Mexican, Portuguese and Spanish cuisine. The fermentation softens the thick rind of limes and transforms the skin into something edible.  The skin of citrus contains more vitamin C and flavonoids than the juice, so be sure to incorporate the skin into your cooking.

10 Ways to Use Salt Preserved Limes:

• Take a wedge and squeeze it over mashed avocado, add garlic, and peppers for guacamole dip.

• Chop up a fermented lime, including the skin, and whirl it in the food processor with drained chickpeas, tahini, and garlic to make hummus.

• Stick two whole fermented limes into the cavity of a chicken before roasting.  Fermented limes go well with garlic and rosemary in poultry.

• Use a squeeze of fermented lime in tequila, in the place of fresh limes.

• Pop a whole lime in your blender or food processor, with mustard, garlic, yogurt and olive oil.  Add a little cilantro or parsley and use it as a salad dressing, dip, or just a creamy topping for rice or mashed potatoes.

• Use in a cup of black tea instead of a lemon wedge.

• Serve with fish or seafood instead of lemons.

• Blend fermented limes, maple syrup, grainy mustard, garlic, olive oil and toasted sesame oil to marinate and baste roast duck, turkey, fowl, or whole fish.

• Roasted root vegetables, like carrots, beets, and turnips, are better roasted with garlic cloves, and served with thinly sliced lime wedges and butter.

Salt Preserved Limes:

Makes 1 quart


• 3 lbs of small organic limes, about 8 to 10

• ½ cup of coarse Celtic sea salt

• 2 tbsp. starter culture, like the liquid from a successful batch of pickles

• Filtered water to fill jar


• 1 Fermentools kit

• 1 quart wide-mouth jar

• Plate

• Metal ring for the wide mouth jar

• Sharp paring knife

• Bowl for salt


1. Place 1 tablespoon of salt into the bottom of the Mason jar.

2. Wash limes well.  Cut off the blossom and stem end of each lime.  Carefully slice each lime into quarters without severing the join on the opposite end.  This allows the limes to open like a flower at the join.  Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of salt on the inside of each lime and place it in your jar.  Fill the jar to within 2 inches of the top with salted limes.

3. Add 2 tablespoons of whey or liquid from a successful ferment.  This will inoculate your ferment and ensure that you start with the best lacto-bacteria to get a good lime pickle.

4. Top up the jar with filtered water to within two inches of the lid.

5. Place the Fermentools glass weight, fermentation lock, and lid.  Put the prepared jar on a plate to catch any inadvertent overflow.  Leave it to ferment for a week or two.  Once the active bubbling has stopped, you’ll notice that the lime skin looks a little less green and a little more like yellow.

6. Place the jar in the fridge for long term storage.  It will keep in the fridge up to a year and get better with age, as the flavors meld.

Use them anywhere you would use fresh limes. Make salt preserved limes while citrus is plentiful and inexpensive. You’ll find so many ways to incorporate them into your sauces and condiments, for a refreshing taste.


Fermentation and traditional ways of food preservation fascinate Chris. She has been experimenting with microbes since she bought her first San Francisco Sourdough kit in the 1970s. Her repertoire of ferments expanded to include fruit wine and herbal wine making, kombucha and kefir, cheese and dairy ferments, sauerkraut and kimchi, as well as lesser known fermented fruits and vegetables. To feed her fascination, Chris recently took a university course on the Human Microbiome, and gained a new appreciation for the role that lactobacillus plays in human wellness. Chris shares her knowledge with her readers on her blog at

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