Where can I find pickling lime?
Can anyone help me find pickling lime (aka calcium hydroxide, quick lime, slaked lime) ? I have tried all of the obvious sources -- Rainbow, various hardware stores with decent canning sections, supermarkets. I know that I can find it online easily, but I'm wondering if I'm overlooking some local resource. I have promised my grandmother that I would make her watermelon rind pickle, like she had growing up in the South, and she particularly specified pickling lime as a key ingredient to get that perfect crispness. Many thanks in advance.
In doing some research on this stuff, I just wanted to add an interesting (at least to me) note on how it works. Apparently the calcium firms up the vegetable or fruit cell wall, so that it doesn't get mushy. I find this interesting because I believe that molasses is also high in calcium, and that this is why the addition of molasses to baked beans prevents them from getting mushy, even if you cook them for a very long time. I wonder if it might not be a good idea to ty adding some of this lime stuff (if I'm able to find it) to other cooked beans, providing that I then correct for the increase in alkalinity caused by the hydroxide part of the chemical.
The only places I've ever seen it on the shelf are Asian markets - specifically, a Thai-made "White Lime" that comes in a pink plastic cup, sold at Vietnamese markets. My advice: hit up the South Asian places near you, especially if any of them are big and seem to cater to the restaurant industry.
Lime is also an ingredient in the masa used to make tortillas so maybe try a Mexican market, esp ones that make fresh corn tortillas. It's called "cal" en espanol.
I don't have any resources (I live in KY) but I just wanted to say "bless you" for wanting to make pickled watermelon rind for your grandmother. It truly is a wonderful accompaniment, and I understand wanting to do something special for your grandmother -- I made biyalis for my husband's grandmother (from Russia via NYC)... ONCE. :-)
I have made watermelon pickle "like your grandmother's" for 40 years having acquired the recipe from my mother-in-law. My friends and neighbors and family all love it. Originally she used Lilly's Lime Powder made b y Lilly Pharmaceuticals. They stopped making it about 20 years ago. Since then I have used Mrs. Wages Lime Powder which is available in grocery and hardware stores that have canning supplies - and also on line. The two products are obviously different because the recipe calls for a tablespoon of one and a cup of the other. The Lilly's was called "slaked lime". Although I do not think the ones made with Mrs Wages are quite as crisp, they are still quite good! I have tried using recipes in cookbooks that call for a salt water soaking and it is not the same at all! I saw your question while trying to locate a source for the "slaked lime" that Lilly's once sold.