A slice of lime will make any drink more special! This small, olive green fruit wins the prize for being the most acidic of citrus fruits. And no, limes are not just a smaller version of lemons. Limes have a much more stronger flavour, which makes it a better companion for Thai and Mexican foods, subduing the hot zap of chillies and the spicy freshness of cilantro. With a diameter of one to two inches, this oval fruit contains a green, tart and juicy flesh.
The larger limes most often available in food stores are the Persian limes, which is a variety that is also known as the Tahitian or the Bearss lime. The Bearss is the seedless variety of the three.
The Key lime, which is similar or the same as the Mexican and West Indian lime is a very small variety of lime that is mainly used for making desserts and sweets, such as key lime pies. The small varieties of lime have an intense flavour that provides a sharp lime taste when used as an ingredient.
Palestine sweet limes are similar to the Tahitian or Mexican lime and are considered a cross between either lime species and a sweet lemon or citron. With a green to orange-yellow colouring, this type of lime is juicy and often eaten as a snacking lime for the juice or pulp that has a sweeter and less tart taste than the Persian or Tahitian lime.
Limes are available throughout the year, although mid-spring through mid-fall is when their availability is much more abundant.
Hold the limes to find firm and heavy fruit for their size, free of decay and mould. They should have a glossy skin (but not from wax) that is deep green in colour; although limes turn more yellowish as they ripen, they are at the height of their lively, tart flavour when they’re are still green. While brown spots on the skin of limes may not affect their colour, limes that are mostly brownish in colour should be avoided since this may be an indication that they have scald (see ‘Of Interest’ below), since it may cause limes to have an undesirable mouldy taste. Regardless, hard or shriveled skin will definitely affect the succulence of the juice.
More perishable than lemons, limes can be kept out at room temperature where they will stay fresh for up to one week. Keep away from sunlight , as it will turn limes yellow as well as alter their flavour. Limes can, also, be stored in the refrigerator crisper, wrapped in a loosely sealed plastic bag, where they will keep fresh for about 10-14 days. While they can be kept for another several weeks, they will begin to lose their tartness.
Freeze – Freeze freshly squeezed lime juice in ice cube trays. Once frozen, remove cubes from trays and place in airtight glass containers and store in the freezer.
Zest – Lime zest is created from the green part of the skin or peel of the lime to add flavour when cooking and baking.Stored in a cool and dry place or freezer in an airtight glass container.
Before cutting, wash the skin thoroughly under cold water to remove any dirt or bacteria. It would not be healthy to allow any residual effects to be transferred to the fruit’s interior.
Juicing: Limes are often called for in recipes in the form of juice. For optimal juiciness, squeeze limes when they are at room temperature or place them in a bowl of warm water for several minutes. Rolling them under the palm of your hand on a flat surface will also help with this extraction process.
Remove any visible seeds either before juicing the halves or strain the juice after the juicing process is complete. To juice, you can either use a juicer, reamer or do it the old-fashioned way, squeezing by hand.
Lime zest strips can be made by using a paring knife or vegetable peeler, after washing and drying the fruit, to slice off thin pieces of the green peel. When slicing off the pieces, care should be taken to leave any of the bitter white pith behind. At this point, the zest can then be more finely chopped or diced if necessary.
To grate the lime zest, rub the lime against a metal grater, making sure to turn the fruit so that only the green part of the peel is being removed and not the white pith. A citrus zester can also be used to remove the zest from the lime.
Limes are a true flavour enhancement:
- The flavourful zip of limes can do wonders for fruit just past its prime, as it balances any cloying sweetness.
- Use the zest of a lime and use in punches, cakes, sauces, and more.
- Try omitting the salt and pepper in lieu of a squeeze of lime juice – on fish and shellfish, grilled meats, and anything deep-fried.
- It can be squeezed over green salads, and used in sauces, vinaigrettes, in ice water, atop seafood soups and vegetable dishes, and, of course, in Key lime pie, cakes, and other desserts like sorbet.
- Seviche, the raw seafood dish from Peru, uses lime juice as a marinade.
- Limes are a popular ingredient in the cuisines of Latin America, Thailand, and other Southeast Asian countries, as well as India, Africa, and the West Indies.
- In Middle Eastern and Asian cooking, limes are dried whole for foods with moist ingredients (i.e. stews) that allow the dried lime to reconstitute, so as it softens the pleasantly tangy flavours are released and absorbed by the food being prepared.
A Few Quick Serving Ideas
- Fish: Place thinly sliced limes – peel and all – underneath and around fish before cooking. Baking or broiling will soften the slices so that they can be eaten along with the fish.
- Salad Dressing: Combine lime juice with olive or flax oil, crushed garlic, and pepper .
- Salt substitute: serve lime wedges with meals as their tartness makes a great salt substitute.
- Limeade Drink: Combine freshly squeezed lime juice, evaporated cane juice and either plain or sparkling water .
- Rice dish: Combine cooked brown rice with peas, chicken, scallions, pumpkin seeds, lime juice and lime zest.
- Avocado Treat: Juice onto an avocado quarter
Eat as much of this disease-fighting fruit as possible! Limes contain unique flavonoid compounds (flavonol) that have antioxidant and anti-cancer properties. More good news: limes add flavour without fat or sodium.
Lime, 1 fruit (2-inch [5cm] diameter)
Total Fat: 0.13g
*Excellent source of: Vitamin C (19.5mg)
*Foods that are an “excellent source” of a particular nutrient provide 20% or more of the Recommended Daily Value. Foods that are a “good source” of a particular nutrient provide between 10 and 20% of the Recommended Daily Value.
- Also called Bearss Limes, Key Limes, Persian Limes, West Indian or Mexican lime (Citrus aurantifolia).
- As opposed to lemons, lime is the dominant variety everywhere except North America and can be used in almost every dish where lemons are called for.
- Growing conditions must be a frost-free, tropical climate, as in Southeast Asia, Southern India, West Africa, and Central America.
- ‘Scald’ is when the surface discolours on fruit, vegetables, leaves, or tree trunks caused by sudden exposure to intense sunlight or the action of gases.
- If your recipe calls for lemon or lime zest, it is always best to use fruit that is organically grown since most conventionally grown fruits will have pesticide residues on their skin.
- Try using the discarded rind of juiced limes to clean copper-bottomed pots and pans.