Season for Lime May - October
Lemon and lime are like fraternal twins - both bring out the flavor beautifully in whatever they are squeezed upon - yet lime's the runt, less strong in its acidity and green is its favorite color. Limes have a thin green skin and a juicy, pale green pulp. The two most-widely available varieties are the Tahitian and the Key lime. Among Tahitian limes are the egg-shaped Persian and the smaller, seedless Bearss. Key limes, famous for the pie bearing their name, are significantly smaller and more acidic than the Tahitian variety.
How to Buy and Store Lime
Look for brightly colored, smooth-skinned limes that are firm and heavy for their size. Make sure there are no signs of mold or decay. Small brown areas (scald) on the skin won't affect flavor or succulence but a lime that is mostly brown will likely be unpalatable. Also, avoid a hard or shriveled skin. Refrigerate uncut limes in a plastic bag for up to 10 days - after which they will begin to lose their flavor. Cut limes can be stored in the same way but only for 5 days.
You can also create and store fresh lime juice and zest for later use. Freshy-squeezed lime juice can be frozen in ice cube trays and then transferred to a plastic bag in the freezer, and dried lime zest can be stored in a cool, dry place in an airtight glass container.
How to Cook Lime
Lime has a multitude of uses - from a sprightly addition to mixed drinks like margaritas and mojitos to a marinade that "cooks" raw fish in the undeniably delicious ceviche (which can be made vegan with mushrooms and tofu!) to the indubitably-loved key lime pie. Add lime juice over the top of savory dishes to enhance their flavors, or mix lime zest and juice into marinades and salsas of all kinds. Don't stop here: Lime is consumed throughout the world in sorbets, beverages, refreshing drinks, pickles, jams, jellies, snacks and candies. The oil extracted from lime's peel can also be used for baking; mojito cupcakes anyone?!
Health Benefits of Lime
Limes have similar health benefits as lemons - both powerhouses of flavor and nutrition. They provide an excellent source of vitamin C which has historically made limes of great use when it comes to scurvy. They also offer a good source of folic acid, vitamin B6 and potassium. Limes contain special flavonoid content that's high in antioxidant and anticancer properties. Studies have shown that lime juice can affect cell cycles, stopping cell division in many cancer cell lines. Limes also have an antibiotic effect and are strongly protective against diseases such as cholera.
Why Buy Natural and Organic Lime
Most important if your recipe calls for lime zest, be sure to purchase limes that have been grown organically, as most conventionally grown fruits will have pesticide residues on their skin. Though a good washing can help remove many of the pesticides, it's never fool proof, and the only way to be confident in the quality of your fruit is to go the organic route. Plus, you send the message that you support sustainable farming practices with every organic purchase you make.
As to bottled lime juice, it is both a far cry from fresh squeezed lime juice in taste and quality, but also lacks a lot of the vitamin C associated with this refreshing fruit.