During an August three-day cold smoker session, I started to get smoke-happy. There was a moment where I cold-smoked pears (not good), but most things improve with a little pecan smoke. I had about a dozen limes sitting around the house, mostly for beverage use, and figured why not? Only when I had smoked limes, I had smoked limes. What was I to do?
I had been using a ton of preserved buddha’s hand all year, but was running a little low at that point. I had not seen preserved limes, but thought that it was worth a shot. They exist in the form of black limes (I did not know this at the time). These are different in that they are not dried and thus do not turn black. These are simply preserved in the same way as preserved lemons only the limes were smoked before they were preserved.
Packed in salt and covered in smoked lime juice, the fruit cured for three months. Once completed, the first taste reminded me not of any food that I have had, but rather like a drink. The flavors were reminiscent of drinks that I have had with mezcal. The lime was bright, but the saltiness and smokiness were stronger at this point.
I struggled with uses initially. I tried it in guacamole, but it kicked the balance in the pants. The avocado was rich in texture, but too mild in flavor to hold up the preserved smoked limes. The better use was in a dish with quinoa and rye berries. These flavors aren’t known as being strong, but the earthiness in the starches combined with the pickled watermelon rind, steamed broccoli stems, and tofu made a winning combination.