Lemon/Lime pickle (Limbe nonche/Lonche)

I have mentioned many times earlier that my aayi makes one of the best pickles I have ever tasted. They are usually very long lasting. The batch I brought with me in Jan last year, ended me whole year (well..I am very stingy when it comes to her pickles). Last year when I saw Manisha’s gorgeous lemon pickle and lime pickle, I immediately wanted to try aayi’s version also(Manisha, since we have a balcony now, I am going to try your both versions before summer ends). But unfortunately I burnt some spices while making this and my blender didn’t make a very smooth powder of the spices. In all, the pickle was not worth a picture.

This pickle can be made both with lemons (thick skinned yellow ones) and limes(thin skinned green ones). Usually the pickles should be made with the lemon or limes that are full of juice. The juice helps in pickling process. Lemon skin takes a long time to soften, lime becomes soft very soon. But my personal favorite is lemon because once the skin gets soft, these have a thick pickled skin with tastes just out of this world.

At my native, we had a lemon tree – we called these as Italian limbe. These were used to make this pickle. But these days my parents specially buy the limes with lots of juice to make this. I am an avid pickle eater and one of my favorite is this pickle. I love the taste of pickled ginger pieces in it (even though I am not a big raw ginger piece fan. I love the taste of it in this one). Some of my relatives who never liked lemon pickle before have become huge fans of aayi’s version. I can survive on this and curd rice alone :). I recommend to all people who usually love or hate lemon pickle to try this atleast once. I can bet you will love this.

3 cup lemon/lime pieces
1/2 cup salt
3/4 cup chili powder
1 tea spn turmeric powder
2 tea spn mustard seeds
1/2 tea spn asafoetida
1/2 tea spn fenugreek seeds
2 tea spns oil
1 tbl spn chopped green chilies
1 tbl spn ginger pieces


Cut the lemons or limes as shown below.

Heat 1 tea spn oil and fry mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds, asafoetida on a medium heat. Take care not to burn any of these. (Mustard turns really bitter when it gets burnt, so be careful) . Take off heat and add turmeric powder. When it is cooled to room temperature, grind it to a smooth powder.

Mix the above powder, salt, chili powder to the lemon pieces and mix well.

Heat remaining oil and fry ginger and green chilies for 2-3 mins. When it is cooled to room temperature, mix this with the lemon pieces. (Take care to mix this when it comes to room temperature. If this is mixed when hot, the pickle gets spoiled soon).

Store this in an airtight container. Leave it as it is for about 15days. Then open the container and see if the pickle is fine. Then close the lid again and leave it for about 45 days. As the pickle gets ready, the lemon pieces get softer. This time largely depends on the kind of lemon/lime used.

– To speed up the pickling time, some people boil the pieces and make the pickle. By boiling them, pickle gets ready within 4-5 days, but it does not usually have very long shelf life. Also, the Vitamin-C content in the lemon/lime gets lost. I personally prefer this slow pickling process where the pieces are not boiled.
– While making the pickle, make sure all the vessels, spoons, grinder/mixer are very dry. Even a small drop of water makes this pickle spoil soon. Even while serving the pickle, make sure the spoon you put in this container is very dry. Better yet, transfer small quantity in a smaller container which can be used to serve.
– As I mentioned earlier, the spices should NOT get burnt while frying. While making my last batch, I accidentally burnt some of the spices and the pickle became very bitter and I had hard time to finish it off.
– Any pickle should taste salty when it is prepared. The salt gets absorbed by the pieces as time passes. If it tastes just perfect when the pickle is prepared, it gets spoiled soon.
– Use limes or lemons that has lots of juice.
– Open the lid of lemon once in about 2 weeks and mix with a clean dry spoon. This helps in redistribution of salt.

85 thoughts on “Lemon/Lime pickle (Limbe nonche/Lonche)”

  1. Shilpa, yummy looking pickle!

    I’ve found that with my pickle recipe, lemons soften quicker than do limes. Even though the limes have a much less thicker peel than do lemons. The lemon peel definitely has more moisture content. But I thought the lime pickle would get done faster but it didn’t last year nor this year.

    Shilpa: Thats a very interesting point Manisha. I think some of the spices make lemon pickle soften soon. I am going to try your pickles this year without fail since I am sure our hot sun will help the pickling process. Currently since aayi is here, I am concentrating more on her food :).

  2. shilpa,
    these photos r good.i would like some tips too.and pickle is so tempting.i am craving for it.thank u for step by step detailed post.

  3. Thanks Shilpa for the mouthwatering nonche. The photos are clear and I felt I was watching you and your aayi as it was being made. It also reminded me of my schoolfriend Pikle. Don’t laugh Shilpa.

    Shilpa: Thats nice Shubhada. Its a very unusual name :). I had a teacher whose name was pickle. One of my cousin’s wife is also pickle.

  4. Shilpa,
    I dont much like the lemon pickle, but since u r so sure abt this, i shall surely try it..my hubby is a big lemon pickle fan.
    Alws loves curd rice & lemon pickle.
    tks for posting & sharing.

  5. Hey Shilpa, this recipe looks quite delicious- I am very fond of such pickles so I have book-marked it to try. I made Manisha’s lemon pickles, but used oranges instead- with lime juice added to cover; you MUST try her recipe as you will fall in love with the taste!

  6. I am going to make this for sure.. Just wait till I get some time. How did you get that gorgeous red color, is it the chillis your Mom got ?

    Also we don’t have to wait to eat for all that 45 days right ?

    Shilpa: 45 days is usually on the upper side when the pieces get really soft. I like it like that. You might check before that to see if it is done to your liking :). Yeah, the red chilies are from India. They are Byadagi chilies from Belgaum. Finally I have something that gives nice color.

  7. adding ginger and green chillies is smt new. need to consult my mom ๐Ÿ™‚
    i cant wait for 45+ days ufffff

    Shilpa: In 45+ the lemon pieces get totally soft the way I like them. As I said, it really depends on the lemons. So it is possible that it might get ready much before.

  8. this is an awesome recipe.i have tried a similar recipe without the chillies and ginger….it tasted great too.it took abt 2 mnths to soften(i kept it in the sun).u are absoulutely right abt everything being moisture-free as moisture spoils it quickly.i am dying to try this recipe with ginger.sure it will taste great….my mouth’s watering already!the thing abt this pickle is….it takes a long time to make but finishes in a jiffy!

  9. Hi Shilpa,

    I am a huge pickle lover. The spicier, the better for me ! Your pickles look great. Thanks for the recipe. But I have a question – I was told that while mixing the spices with the lemon and other powders, you should not do it with hands as it tends to get spoilt soon. So did you do the mixing with spoons and laddles?

    Shilpa: Vidya, it does not matter if you use hands to mix. But you have to be careful that hands should be very clean and dry. Aayi mixed it with hands only. Hands might start burning afterwards because of the heat ๐Ÿ˜‰

  10. HI,

    I do it in same style but I add tadka and all after 15-20 days. I am running out of this at home, you reminded me at the right time.

  11. hey

    i want to say that i love your site. since you asked for feedback i would like to say that, if you change the background colors in your UI, your site will loke more appealing. As well as when you click photos, the background cloth color that you choose will make a huge difference. I love this site and hence giving some constructive feedback.

    BTW i am mlore and konkani and this is my daily hangout…

    do u have recipe for raw jackfruit nonche? the one that is drak brown in color.. do u know what i am talking abt?

  12. Shilpa since your Aayi is there with you it must be completely exciting to document all her recipes. It would be a nice thing to read her interview like you did with Barbara or you could transcript her views about this site.

  13. A huge namaaskar to the lady who inspired this blog, your Aayi!

    Shilpa: Manisha, aayi has given her best wishes to you. We keep talking about you

  14. Who doesn’t? ๐Ÿ˜€

    Shilpa: Are you talking about Manisha? If yes, she is been more than a blogger buddy for me. She helped me and my husband when I was in greatest need of help. I don’t know how to thank her. I don’t know much about American lifestyle, she is one of the persons from whom I learned many things (Manisha, you might not know about this, but I have observed you a lot and learnt a lot from you).

  15. Shilpa….I made this today. Bought fresh lemons from the farmers market, but 60 days is a very long time. Waiting to taste the same. Thanks again to aayi and you.

    Shilpa: Aruna, check once after about 45 days. I like it when the skin becomes very soft, thats the 60day time.

  16. recipe looks excellent. sorry i did not find it sooner as i have tried another one i found online and i think the lime pieces are too big (quarters) and are going to take forever to soften.
    i have another question though (well, two actually). when you say “spoil” what do you mean? mold? or something else? would i be able to tell clearly that a pickle has spoiled?
    the reason i ask is i just made a south indian pickle (using small sour green plums instead of green mangoes because where i live – istanbul – there are no green mangoes) with a LOT of ground mustard. it has been in the sun for almost two weeks, looks great, although maybe i topped off with too much oil (gingelly). i opened the jars and it has quite a strong smell, a bit like sulphur. it does not taste bad at all (salty and spicy and promising) but i am wondering if that is just the high amount of mustard or if something has gone off. this is my first time making pickles at home (first time i’ve lived somewhere sunny enough, with a good windowsill) so i’m a bit unsure.
    thanks in advance for any advice!

    Shilpa: Katherein, few things to notice would be, white colored fungi floating on top. This mainly happens due to less salt or water in any of the vessels/ingredients. You can also tell it by the smell of it. (well..I am not very comfortable with this smell thing).

  17. thanks, no fungi at all.
    i’m pretty sure there was plenty of salt. for one, i am used to commercial pickles and when i tasted this, i thought, ooh, too salty but since then i have been reading about how pickles are often saltier at the beginning, and should be. i think i was careful about the water thing, all the utensils, etc were dry and i wiped all the little plums with a cloth. i didn’t wipe them once they were cut (some of the recipes for avakaya say to wipe the cut pieces of mango) since they are quite small, so of course there was some juice from the fruit.
    if you have any more input about smell, let me know.
    i guess the acid test will be — if it tastes good and we don’t get sick from it, then i guess it’s ok, right?? ๐Ÿ™‚
    thanks so much for the fast reply, i REALLY appreciate it.

    Shilpa: I think your pickle is okay. I don’t know how the plum pickle will taste though. The smell might be because of them. Its usually not necessary to wipe mangoes after cutting. The juices should remain in the pickle. Thats what makes the pickle more tasty. But any extra water should not be there, thats all

  18. Hi Shilpa,

    Just made the pickles today…now i have a couple of questions since this is the first time i am ever making a batch

    1..did u clean and sterilise your containers in which you store the pickle for 60 days(like we sterilise for jam making)?

    2…did u fill the pickle right up to the brim (again,like we do for jams)?

    3…should i keep it for 60 days outside? or in the fridge? being a microbiologist by training LOL i think think of all kinds of fungi wanting to grow in this weather (its very hot here last two days)inspite of the salt and turmeric.i tried to exclude as much air as possible when filling it in the jars.

    Katherine,I cant be absolutely certain,but the sulphur smell can originate from garlic or yellow mustard.

    Shilpa: Namrata, its always better to sterilize the container. Atleast wipe it real dry and heat it a bit to remove any moisture. You can fill it till brim. Usually pickle reduces in volume as it is done. You should keep the container outside, not in fridge. Don’t worry, nothing happens to it, this is the method used by generations in India :).

  19. Thanks for such a prompt answer,thats great to know. Can’t wait to try the pickle. Does the chilli content get a bit reduced by the addition of the lime juice? Otherwise I will have to be very careful when eating it:)

    Shilpa: Yes Namrata, it won’t taste very hot when done.

  20. Tell me which oil to use for making the lemon pickle?

    Shilpa: We used peanut oil for this cooking, traditionally til(sesame) oil is used. Its just 1-2 tea spns, so it does not make much of a taste difference.

  21. Hi Shilpa! I just loved this recipe just by looking at the pics and i prepared it today itself. As i made a little large quantity, i couldnt find a glass bottle to store the pickle. I stored it in an air tight plastic pet bottle. Now i am a bit worried if it would get spoilt. Please tell me if i can leave it until the time you’ve mentioned here or should i transfer them tomorrow in some glass bottles. I dont want it to get spoilt. So please throw some light on this doubt of mine. Thanks and regards!


    Shilpa: Babitha, it is always better to use glass or ceramic containers for storing pickles. Sometimes plastic bottles leave a very bad smell when stored for a long time(not always, but sometimes it happens). So I would suggest you to transfer contents.

  22. awesome recipe shilpa. I am a regular reader of your website and have tried many of your recipes,it turns out be very good dish

  23. Shilpa,
    The lime in the picture – is yellow color.Is it ok if we can use green limes ?.Yellow ones are sweet, used for lemonade

    Shilpa: Yes, you can use green limes.

  24. The pickle looks very tempting…I have visited your site for the first time while trying to search Sweet Lime Pickle…Could you provide me with the recipe …specially Konkani recipe….
    …Thanks for the spicier version as above…I am surely going to try it out….

  25. Hey Shilpa,
    I made this pickle today. I will let you know the taste after 60 days… can’t wait to taste. But one questin though…. is masala quantity is tea spoon or table spoon.. ??? Thanks

    Shilpa: We used tea spns. But if you need more masala, you could increase it.

  26. Hi Shilpa,

    Can you also post how to make kanchi lemon pickle?
    the one soaked in salt…i dont know how exactly to make it. its famous in mangalore side

  27. does this have to be in the sun during the 45 days? or can it be in the house?

    Shilpa: No, it need not be in sun. Keep in a dry place.

  28. Shilpa,
    I always had disastrous results whenever attempted to make pickles. After seeing this recipe , I couldn’t resist. I thought this one can’t fail and it did not ๐Ÿ™‚ I am so glad I have big jar of homemade ‘limbya nonche’ now. Even though 45 days seems long, it was worth the wait. I must confess that we started gobbling on it by 30th day ๐Ÿ™‚
    Thanks for the step by step pictures as well as detailed description.Couldn’t ask for more.

  29. HI,
    I’m going to try your lemon pickle, but I don’t recall seeing asafoetida anywhere in san francisco (my home). Can I substitute anything?

    Shilpa: I am pretty sure you would get it in Indian stores in SF. It is a very common ingredient. There is no substitute. If you don’t find it, leave it out and make it (the aroma won’t be same though)

  30. I’ve just checked the lime pickle after 15 days I’ a bit concerned it is a bit dry should i add wine vinigar or something. I tried a small bit and it knocked my socks off (English slag for very hot good etc) but it is very salty will this lessen?
    Keith England

    Shilpa: Yes, it wont be very salty after done. But it will be a bit salty – like most of Indian pickles.
    Mix the pickle once with a dry spoon and leave it like that. No need to add vinegar.

  31. Thank you so much for the recipe. It smells wonderful. My lemons were dry so I juiced other lemons to get it to look like yours.

    Do you still have difficulty with the grinding the mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds, and asafoetida? I am going to try something next time to get a real fine powder: roasting the spices with the salt. I’ve done that with some Chinese recipes and as long as you control the temperature the salt won’t burn.

    I will control the salt’s temperature in the oven, get it to a little above 220 and then stir the spices in. I used a Mediterranean sea salt and ground it in a coffee grinder I use for spices, so when I grind it with the other spices it will end up being a very fine powder. I will go by nose on this one. If you are doing this for the first time be very careful with the salt and wait for it to cool down before grinding.

    Terry, USA

    1. No, any lemon/lime pickle needs some time to get pieces soften. So they need some time. You can speed up the process by keeping it under hot sun. Some people steam the lemons and make the pickle, which can be eaten within one-two days. But the pickle gets spoiled very soon.

  32. Pickle-Master Rohit

    Salutations Shilpa!

    We are making your super-dooper, mouthwatering pickle recipe!!!! We used green lemons and are making double quantities. IS THIS OKAYY!!!?? (we hope so)
    Double quantities is 1 cup of salt! This is scary for us. Also some other recipes have sugar as well? Do you recommend?

    And lastly, we have a good friend who has a dog with name Pickle!

    Thankyou again for your magestic pickle recipe.

  33. hi shilpa, i tried this recipe today and it is smelling good. i fried mustard seeds and methi as u said taking utmost care so that it does not burn but i could’nt make fine powder of it..can u plz mention exactly how much time should i roast the same.

  34. HhI SHILPA,
    I am also crazy about pickles especially limbiya nonche.by this weekend I am ging to prepare this pickle and let u know.
    please can u let me know how to make sweet lime pickle?do reply to my query.
    sudha borkar

  35. Dear Shilpa,

    couple of doubts: should we stir the pickle everyday when it’s resting?

    if i understand correctly this recipe does not require that the pickle be kept in sun. can we keep it anywhere in the kitchen?

  36. Can I perserve this pickle, meaning process in a water bath. I would like to enter it in a fair. Thank you

  37. Hi shilpa, i tried ur lemon pickle and it was really really nice.. i make it regularly nowadays.. thanks for the wonderful recipe..

  38. Dear Shilpa,

    This is the second time i’m making pickle at home. the first one flopped terribly (no not your recipe). my pickle got ready in a month’s time. the salt, spice level all to perfection. i still can’t believe i had self made lemon pickle at dinner today. mom will be disappointed that i’ll not trouble for her pickle anymore:)

  39. Hey Shilpa,

    I prepared this today, do I need to store it in the refridgerator? or in some warm place? and I used the lemon we get here with the thick peel. so I guess it will take a long time before the pickle is ready. also wanted to know what acts as the preservative for the pickle??
    Thank you.

  40. hi shilpa,

    i have stored lemen pieces and salt in a container,
    can i use same receipe now its been 10 days i stored.wish i hd seen ur receipe before it is really mouth watering


  41. Iv made this lemon preserve and on sample tasting it is truely a great flavor…my problem is that I must’ve miscalculated on my SALT quantity??? It is hugely OVERSALTED (my error Im sure!) Please could you suggest how I could remedy this. May I just add extra lemon pieces (even though the 45day storage period is over?)
    Help please… it tastes so good and I dont want to throw what I do have, away…

  42. Hi Shilpa,
    tried this recipe today. Used sesame oil in it, hope thats all right. Also, the masala paste wasn’t fine and hence the pickle is not yet giving an authentic look!! Will it look proper on settling for a few days? Also, am i required to pour more oil in a few days?

  43. yup it relly works
    Hi Shilpa,
    tried this recipe today. Used sesame oil in it, hope thats all right. Also, the masala paste wasnรขโ‚ฌโ„ขt fine and hence the pickle is not yet giving an authentic look!! Will it look proper on settling for a few days? Also, am i required to pour more oil in a few days?

    1. I don’t think it will change if the paste was not fine. Paste should be fine to give the authentic taste. No more oil needed. Just keep mixing it once in 2 weeks or so.

  44. Shilpa, you reminded me of my Mother-in-law. My pickle always gets spoiled. so I left making it. But your receipe I will surely try.
    Thanks once again

  45. Dear Shilpa,
    Just finishing the last jar from the batches I made in May 2011.. The very best Pickle I have ever tasted thank you thank you. Now off to buy more limes. The best thing is I have been saving jars for a year so will have lots and lots for friends and family.

  46. Hi Shilpa – for the very first time I am making a pickle. Initial taste after mixing it is so good. Hopefully it sets well. Thanks for the awesome recipe.

  47. Hi Shilpa,thank you for the mouth watering lemon pickle recipe.I just plucked the lemons from my lemon tree and was looking for a recipe where I found your website!Do I need to wash them before I cut them or wipe them with a clean cloth as you mentioned any small amount of water can spoil the pickle!

  48. Hi Shilpa,
    First of all ! Went through many recipes and I must say this one sounds so good and simple. Thanks for posting. I like karnataka recipes where we use less oil and yet make it tasty.
    I have a lot of lemons (50)which I dont want to waste. I am mainly concerned about the shelf life in this method. How long could I keep the pickle after 45 days of marinading?. is it better just to marinade only with ginger,green chillies, salt and use small portions and add red chillies /oggarane when needed?. I want to keep it min for an year.

    1. It remains good for more than a year. Just make sure to open it once a month or so during first couple of months and mix to make sure salt touches all lemons. My last batch last me almost 1 and half years

  49. hey shilpa …
    just tried this pickle … and it was yum. Made a small change in the recipe … along with the lime i added few left over lime peels (limbya Soll), and the pickle was a big hit.



    1. This pickle stays good for a very long time, mine is still in very good condition after 2 years. I am not sure with boiled lemons though.

  51. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe.Actually my mother got so many lemons by someone and she was worried about what to do with them.My bro suggested her to make a pickle but instead of old method I choose this method to make a pickle and it was mouthwatering!thanks again and all the best!

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