Winter Limes and Spicy Salt

Limes are often associated with hot weather and all things tropical- Mojitos by the pool, spicy Thai food, Indian lime chutney, and Mexican guacamole, just to name a few treats where limes play a key role. Because of these culinary associations, I tend to feel like indulging in lime laced dishes in summer. And yet my own lime trees prefer to crop in the cooler months. One week before winter and the Tahitian limes are in their prime. This calls for a week of lime recipes.

Tahitian limes, Kaffir lime leaves and one knobbly Kaffir lime.

Soon after arriving at our new place, we planted three limes, three lemons, one orange, one mandarin and a kaffir lime. The limes are the happiest of all the citrus family. Given the glut, I have been exploring new ways of using them. Dried lime peel gives an interesting note to a spicy salt when mixed with dried chilli, another plant that grows so well in the garden, some Himalayan pink salt and a little smoked pimenton.

The ground components of a special salt.

Before juicing your limes for other recipes, peel them and place the zest or rinds in a heatproof container near a heat source. Mine dried in a terracotta container on top of a wood stove within minutes, perhaps too quickly. To maintain that green colour, leave them on a dish on a mantelpiece when the fire or gas is going. The peels, once hardened, are ready to use.

First gather your ingredients. Use organic limes and chillies if you have them on hand. Grind some whole dried chilli, then grind some dried lime peel and then measure the salt and pimenton. I prefer to mix the components after grinding them separately so that I can tweak the flavour if needed, but you can throw the whole lot in the grinder at once if you prefer.

Lime and Chilli Salt.

  • 1/2 cup sea salt flakes or Himalayan pink salt rocks
  • 2 tsp dried chilli flakes
  • 2 tsp dried lime peel
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika (pimenton)

Whizz the ingredients in an electric spice grinder. Store in a jar.

This salt gives a great flavour boost to plain foods such as fish, grilled chicken, breakfast eggs, or, as shown below, sprinkled on red rice and tuna fritters.

Today’s lunch. Red rice and tuna fritters with lime and chilli salt and a garden salad.

P.S. While on the subject of drying peels, I save all the mandarin and orange peels to dry in the same way. They provide a beautiful orange oil aroma to the atmosphere and work like magic as fire lighters. If you have an open fire or wood stove heater, I urge you to dry your citrus peels.

23 thoughts on “Winter Limes and Spicy Salt”

    1. Our lemons have become more prized as the limes become more common place. Chilli and lime is a great marriage. With palm sugar and salty fish sauce, it’s the essence of all Thai cooking.

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  1. Not many know that the tropics produce a plethora of citrus fruit (me included, until I moved here) the likes of ruby grapefruit, mandarins, limes, lemons etc. They are all so sweet and juicy and all in season right now. I just hate throwing away my glut of citrus peels but your blog has reminded me of the value of recycling said waste. It’s been far too many decades ago but I remember my Gran and Great-Gran who lived with us on the farm making candied citrus peel to ward off colds and used as medicinal cough lollies eked out accordingly. These yummy gems were secreted in jam jars in their drawers of “unmentionables”. – never to be sighted by curious children. Many attempts were made by myself and siblings to fake a cough or cold – be kept at home from school- just to enjoy the selfish experience of being administered these harboured sweets. However, in order to truncate our healing process (and Gran & Grannies mad but knowing methodology) we were also required to gulp down spoonfuls of castor oil. What (we thought) they didn’t know was that we exchanged the castor oil with olive oil but we still pulled the “cat’s bum” face in an attempt to fool them. Did it work? No, they counteracted by putting salt into the olive oil. Which brings me to the age-old adage – Matriarchs know everything!!

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    1. Candied orange peel in the unmentionables drawer, goodness me Peter, the mind boggles. I remember the fad of giving kids Caster oil. There was some bloke on the radio in the 50s who used to offer words of encouragement, like ‘down she goes’ as we lined up for the dreadful stuff. There was definitely some kind of programme happening, backed by the media or the banal Sun newspaper, which , fortunately, didn’t last too long.

      Yes matriarchs know everything. You learnt quite a lot from yours Peter.

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  2. I have a load of fruit on my potted lime tree and while I wait for them to ripen, limes are super cheap at the Farmer’s Mkt. I made marmalade yesterday, cordial the day before, next up, chilli and lime salt. Thanks for this one, I can see a million uses…

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    1. Lime marmalade is wonderful spread. The limes in the markets are cheap here two. Might buy a swag to make marmalade for friends who hand over their cute Roses marmalade jars, all cleaned and ready to go.

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  3. in our chook yard we have a lime tree which bears abundantly but drops its fruit before they are fully mature. I think perhaps it resents sharing its space with our remaining chook, Mrs Pumblechook. It’s a wonder she hasn’t been brained by the falling fruit. I do rescue the limes and after a good wash I can get some juice and rind. Drying them on the wood stove would be something I’d love but the Brisbane winter sun will have to do. I do like this kind of salt, thank you for the inspiration Francesca.

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  4. Just love the sound of this easy-to-make spicy salt – would love to try it in so many ways! Do hope someone at the neighbouring markets will have brought in some limes coming into season in this area also. I am blessed with a solitary but hardworking Meter lemon behind my kitchen door – my favourite in the garden but don’t think its peel would cut the mustard here . . . . lucky you . . .

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  5. I read earlier in the week, made a mental note and finally got to peeling the stash of limes and putting the peels and last of the chillies on the wood stove when the G.O. lit it this evening. The fragrance is amazing… worth doing for that alone but I love flavoured salts, so I will concoct some of those as well. My go-to has been lemon zest & rosemary, so now I can make my own as well as lime & chilli. Orange peel fire lighters sound lovely. Thanks so much for the wonderful inspiration ♡

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  6. I grated and dried some lime zest to add to a sugar and coconut oil face scrub. It’s a very effective exfoliant and if a little bit of the scrubs ends up in my mouth in the shower, well that’s the cook’s treat ; )

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