A few years ago two of my very good foodie friends each planted a lime tree and so started the wait for these amazing limes to appear, but to our great disappointment for the first three years either tree produced any fruit. This year, suddenly there is an explosion of fruit on both trees and I am very happy to be on the receiving end of bags of fresh and organic limes this season.
I adore this small, green citrus fruit, which is a staple of Asian cuisine and is used mainly for its juice, although lime zest and leaves are also used in cooking. It has a stronger, more bitter taste than lemon. The juice can be squeezed into cocktails or sprinkled over finished dishes to enhance their flavour; it effectively ‘cooks’ raw fish in a ceviche.
Probably the most tart of fruits, limes, like lemons are rarely eaten alone. But their tart juice adds life to everything from salads to pies. This gives them carte blanche by perking up all the freshness and goodness of your dishes. And as they are very low in calories, they are the perfect accompaniment on your new diet!
Selection and Storage
Look for firm, unblemished fruit that’s heavy for its size – an indicator of juiciness. Thin-skinned fruit yield the most juice. Refrigerated, they keep for a month or two. Unlike lemons that can be kept at room temperature, limes prefer to be refrigerated. The key lime – of pie fame – packs much more flavour than other lime varieties because of its greater acidity. Key limes are small and round; other varieties look more like green lemons. Limes typically turn yellowish as they ripen. When you select your limes, go for the greenest ones as they have the best flavour.
Preparation and Serving Tips
To get more juice from a lemon or lime, bring it to room temperature, and then roll it back and forth under the palm of your hand before you cut and squeeze it. The most flavourful part of the fruit is its “zest,” or skin. Scrape it off with a grater, knife, or zester, and use it to enhance desserts and fruit salads. A twist of lemon adds zing to fish and to bean dishes, drastically reducing the amount of salt typically used to flavour beans.
One of the most refreshing drinks on a hot day is Salted Lime & Soda, which I learned to drink on my three trips to India since 2005. And here is my very easy recipe for this great drink:
Per glass of 300ml you’ll need:
- Juice of two limes
- ½ teaspoon of organic sea salt
- 250ml chilled soda water
- A slice of lime for decoration
Simply squeeze the juice of the limes into your glass, add the salt and mix until the salt has dissolved. Slowly add the soda water and serve immediately with a thin slice of lime. For a more adult version add a splash of vodka, it makes for a refreshing drink!
Benefits of Lime
The first fruit that comes to our minds when it comes to medicinal uses is perhaps the good old lime. This sour citrus fruit can do what many specialist medicines cannot. Lime, bearing the scientific name Citrus Aurantifolia, is being used for ages for treatment of various ailments.
The health benefits of lime include weight loss, skin care, good digestion, relief from constipation, eye care, and treatment of scurvy, piles, peptic ulcer, respiratory disorders, gout, and urinary disorders. If you suffer from heartburn, try the juice of one lime every morning in a glass of luke warm water.
Lime is consumed throughout the world in sorbets, beverages, refreshing drinks, pickles, jams, jellies, snacks, candies, sugar boiled confectionaries and culinary and the oil extracted from its peel or skin is extensively used in soft drink concentrates, body oils, cosmetics, hair oils, tooth pastes, toilet and beauty soaps, disinfectants, mouth washes, deodorants and innumerable other products.