I've gotten a few comments recently asking how my pickled limes experiment ended, and I did make sure to carefully document results! But between *waves hands* the world and computer issues my inclination to write about pickled limes on the internet took a bit of a hit. And things on the world front haven't really improved, but my computer issues have been resolved! So no promises I'll post with any frequency, but I think I can promise I will post at least sporadically.
Anyways, on to the main event: how did the pickled limes turn out?
When I envisioned opening the limes and trying them out, I had grand visions of discovering a long-forgotten delightful snack...
But I am sorry to say that they ended up aligning more with the historical sources deriding them as an "acquired taste" only adopted by Bostonians.
That is overreacting slightly - they weren't all terrible. And there were still some decided differences in how they tasted! Science is cool, guys.
To help with the tasting portion of this project* I had the help of an esteemed panel of judges. We wore masks except while actually tasting, and stayed outside with ample space between our picnic blankets. Luckily we had a truly fantastic early October, so the weather was worth enjoying!
Let's dive in:
Our Least Favorite: Plain Brined
The plain brined limes surprisingly didn't smell like salt! They smelled...sort of floral?
From the panel:
"It smells like the toilet bowls in the Old Town Hall"
"It smells like 1950s chemical cleaner"
The taste was more salty, as I would expect given they'd been brined in salt water. I was expecting salt and sourness, but it actually wasn't sour at all. It tasted salty and organic - a little floral and musky.
The panel was more positive than I was, actually:
"I'm not hating it."
"Once you get past the initial salty awfulness it's ok"
"It has a musky floralness"
Runner Up: Spiced Vinegar
This was my favorite of the bunch, because the punch of the vinegar overpowered everything else. I like vinegar! I do think if I ever tried this again I would use more spices though.
The panel was more mixed:
"That one hits you hard"
"I don't taste any lime whatsoever"
"No toilet here!"
"The peel is pretty nice"
The Winner: Sweet Vinegar
I expected to like this one the best but in the end I think I liked it without the sugar.
This one got the panel's vote though:
"This one is actually quite good"
"It's different, I don't know that I like it?"
"It's not bad!"
So there you have it! I am calling this a successful experiment, because now I have tried them. Would I make them again? Probably the sweet vinegar batch, with more spices. And I'd probably serve them with something. I used the same recipe (originally from an 1869 fruit pickling book) that I used for the sweet vinegar limes to pickle peaches over the summer, and those were delicious! Especially with manchego cheese and crusty bread.
When limes are next in season, I may try again with slightly different ratios (and try a batch where I pickle them in vinegar right away, instead of brining them first). But we'll see - for now, I think my appetite for pickled limes is satiated.
*Note: the salt-packed limes didn't make it to tasting. I ended up with something growing in there and it wasn't worth giving my friends botulism in the middle of a pandemic :(