Beyond Marmalade: Cure Dayap in Salt and Sugar for a Unique, Sweet-Savory Preserve

May 29, 2018

There are tons of great fruit in the Philippines, among which is dayap, also known as key lime. As with regular limes, this distinctly bright, aromatic green variety is often used in sweet applications (aside from cakes and pies, locally, it’s traditionally employed to add a zesty whisper to leche flan and pastillas). But it’s also worth exploring ways of enjoying it even in savory ways—e.g., as a one-of-a-kind condiment you’ll want to use on everything from your main course to your dessert.

Preserving dayap this way does more than extend its life, but also gives it a distinctive profile you don’t find in the fresh stuff.

We take a cue from the Moroccan (and Middle Eastern) pickle known as preserved lemons, a traditional ingredient made with citrus cured in salt (and occasionally, sugar). This not only extends its life (thanks to fermentation) but also develops its flavor, taming its acidity and giving it a unique umami funk you won’t find in the fresh fruit. Past having to chop the citrus into wedges and burying it in a salt-sugar mixture, all you do is sit back and let time do its thing (we’re talking 3-4 weeks—the longer, the more complex the resulting flavor). Our recipe employs a touch more sugar than most versions, resulting in preserves that are sweeter than most—and thus more versatile. Slice them up and have it with mascarpone cheese on toast, like we did, or take advantage of its intriguing flavor to bring life to soups or meat dishes.

Preserved Dayap

  • Serves: 2 cups
  • Active time: 15 mins
  • Total time: 3-4 weeks
  • Difficulty: Easy


  • 3 cups dayap, washed and scrubbed
  • 1 cup salt
  • ½ cup sugar


  1. Cut stems off of dayap, then cut each dayap open to create 4 wedges connected at the base.
  2. Place dayap in a large bowl and cover in salt and sugar, tossing evenly to coat.
  3. Open up each dayap to get the salt mixture into the middle.
  4. Take a large jar and place the dayap one by one inside, pressing each time to release some juice.
  5. With every layer or two of dayap, add in some of the salt and sugar mixture to ensure every piece is coated.
  6. One the jar is full, there should be enough juice to cover every piece of dayap.
  7. If not, add juice until all are covered, and seal the jar.
    Place in the refrigerator for 3-4 weeks, shaking the jar every 2 days to distribute the liquid.
  8. Dayap is ready when the skin is tender and slightly translucent.
  9. Use preserved dayap to flavor soups, chop them up finely and add them to a variety of dishes, or even enjoy them over toast with Greek yogurt and jam.
Patricia Baes SEE AUTHOR Patricia Baes

Trish thinks too much about everything—truth, existence.....and what’s on her plate. Her ongoing quest for a better relationship with food has led to a passion for cooking, gastronomy, and a newfound interest in its politics. She dreams of perfecting the art of making soufflé with her crappy toaster oven.

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