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Mandarins: Encore »« Lemons

Limes

Citrus aurantifolia


Description

Similar to lemons, but with a distinctive flavour of their own, limes are a popular ingredient in many types of cuisine.

Limes tend to be smaller than lemons and are typically green due to being picked and sold while still unripe, which gives them a better flavour. Left to ripen, limes will eventually turn yellow and become less acidic.

Choose firm limes with a dark green, glossy skin. They’ll keep for about two weeks in the fridge, or one week if stored at room temperature, but keep them out of the sun or they’ll ripen.

Limes, like lemons, are an excellent source of vitamin C. They only contain about half the vitamin C of lemons, but it’s still a decent amount.

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History

Limes probably originate from Southeast Asia, and are likely to have been brought to the Middle East by Arab traders in about the 10th century. Arabs took them to the Mediterranean, where they made their way through southern Europe.

Columbus took them along on his voyages in the late 15th century, and they were planted in a number of Caribbean countries, where the tropical climate allowed the fruit to thrive. British sailors, wanting to prevent scurvy, stocked up on them in the West Indies where they were more readily available than lemons, earning them the colloquial name ‘limeys’.

Uses

Limes are a key ingredient in many Thai and Mexican dishes. Squeeze some lime into your refried beans, try substituting it for lemon next time you make guacamole, or mix it with chilli, fish sauce and garlic for a Thai-inspired sauce.

Lime, and lemon, juice is acidic enough to tenderise meat, and is a key ingredient in raw fish salad, a popular dish in the Pacific Islands. Marinate your fish in plenty of lime and/or lemon juice for a couple of hours, and add coconut cream, tomatoes, spring onions, and green capsicum. Don’t use aluminium or iron cookware to marinate anything in lime juice, though: the acids will react with the metal and affect the colour and flavour of the food.

If you need to squeeze a very firm lime, drop it in hot water for a few seconds and firmly roll it on the benchtop to loosen the flesh and juice.

Facts

Lime leaves are often used as a herb in many Asian countries.

The limes you’ll buy are probably Persian limes – the other variety is the Key lime, which takes its name from the Florida Keys and is a main ingredient of Key Lime Pie, but this is more common in the United States.



Mandarins: Encore »« Lemons

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