About limes Edit
Limes may be most famous for their historical benefits to sailors. Limes are packed with Vitamin C and were eaten on ships to prevent scurvy, a disease caused by that vitamin deficiency. In the eighteenth century, all British naval ships assigned to long journeys were required to carry limes. The nickname ‘limeys’ for British sailors has continued to this day.
Limes were originally grown on the Indian subcontinent and were popularized in Europe about the time of the Crusades. In the United States, limes were established in what is now named Florida by the sixteenth century. Today limes are grown in Florida, the Southwest, and California.
Sour limes possess a greater sugar and citric acid content than lemons and feature an acidic and tart taste, while sweet limes lack citric acid content and are sweet in flavor.
Caribbean limes have light yellow skins when ripe, though they are often picked green because they go bad rapidly when ripe. When overripe, they turn yellow and are an excellent source of vitamin C. For this reason, the popularity of these citrus fruits grew with the realization by the British Navy that they cured scurvy. Now limes are one of the most important ingredients in Jamaican sauces and marinades, and are used to perk up dishes from savory to sweet. Chicken and fish turn glorious with a mere squeeze of lime. And beverages, cakes and preserves wouldn't taste the same without it.
Select limes that are glossy and light to deep green in color. Limes should have a thin, smooth skin and be heavy for their size. Small brown areas on the skin should not affect flavor, but large blemishes or soft spots indicate a damaged lime. Ripe limes are firm, but not hard. Avoid limes that have a yellowish skin or are too small. A hard shriveled skin is a sign of dryness, as is a coarse thick skin. Limes are available year round in most supermarkets.
Limes may be stored at room temperature or in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks. Limes store better in a plastic bag if placed in the refrigerator and those stored at room temperature will yield more juice. Take care to keep limes out of direct sunlight as they will shrivel and become discolored.
The majority of limes are part of the Tahitian strain, believed to have originated in Tahiti. There are two common varieties of that strain: Persian and Bearss. The Persian is egg-shaped and contains seeds. The Bearss is smaller and seedless. Key limes are smaller and rounder than the Tahitian strain and have a higher acid content. These limes are mostly used in baking.
Wash well before using, even if you are only using the juice. Limes are usually eaten raw, but may be included in baked or grilled dishes. Many recipes call for fresh lime juice. To juice by hand, roll the lime on a firm surface before squeezing out the juice.
Limes are also often used as garnish. Simply slice the lime in half and slice into several sections. Limes or lime juice are a great salt substitute and add a tangy flavor.
- Fruit & Vegetable of the Month: Limes by the US Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, public domain government resource—original source of recipe