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Exotic lime 'vinegar'

February 7, 2008 | 10:43 am

Limevinegar If you have a lemon or lime tree, you'll be picking golden globes from your lawn for a couple of weeks longer. What do you do with them all? I have both kinds of tree, and I've always turned my citrus glut into Moroccan-style pickled lemons (or limes).

But a few months ago I read that in Oman they make a "vinegar" by adding salt to lime juice, sealing the jar and leaving it outdoors for a couple of weeks. I think it was Oman, anyway -- they grow a lot of limes there -- but somehow I can't find the reference anymore. Anyway, three weeks ago I filled a quart jar with lime juice and added half a cup of salt. It's been sitting in my kitchen since.

The result is rather exotic. It smells like a cross between pickled lemons and that old cocktail ingredient Rose's Lime Juice, without the pine-like aromas of the first and the strange artificiality of the second. 

So far I've tried splashing some on potato salad -- it turned that homey old standard into something mysteriously Asian. I've made a vinaigrette sauce with it; very successful, though I found you need to up the proportion of lime to oil to 3:4 to get the full flavor. (By the same token, mayonnaise is a bust, because the usual proportion of 1 tablespoon to 3/4 cup of oil completely drowns the lime vinegar aroma.)

It wouldn't work as a substitute for lime juice in most cocktails because of the detectable salt flavor, but as soon as I get a chance, I'm going to sprinkle some into tequila. I'll call it the Pickled Margarita.

-- Charles Perry

Photo by Charles Perry