Limes: picking, selecting, storing
20 Oct 2013 06.53 am by Renny Wijeyamohan
Don’t be fooled by the common misconception that a lime is an unripe lemon – they are different fruits! How can you tell the difference between a lemon and a lime? Well for a start – limes are usually small, round and green, compared to their larger yellow cousins, and have a sweeter flavour. Despite their diminuitive size, limes pack a punch and are a good source of Vitamin C and flavonoids which have antibiotic effects. Use limes to add flavour to food and cocktails, for a light and refreshing zesty flavour.
Depending on the type of lime you are growing in your home garden – the visual cue of when to pick them will be different. Persian limes (also known as Tahiti limes) are your classic green limes. Keep an eye out for when they change from a dark green colour to a medium or light green. This means they are ready to harvest. If you’re growing one of the less common varieties like Mexican limes or Key limes your task is a bit easier. These cultivars will change from green to yellow during their growth cycle and should be picked just after a yellow colouration emerges. To pick a lime, hold it firmly in your hand, twist it, tilt it and then snap it from the tree.
When selecting a lime from your local grocery store first make sure it is the right colour: medium to light green for Persian/Tahiti limes and yellow for Mexican or Key limes. If the colouration is right, you should feel it to get a sense of its weight and juiciness. Hold the lime in your hand, it should feel heavy but give a little when you apply pressure to it. The more give that a lime has, the more juice it will produce. Look out for limes that are wrinkled or feel dry and “airy” – this means they are past their prime and the juice content will be lower than a heavier, fuller lime. If the lime has small brown patches called “scald” on the peel it can be still be consumed – these won’t affect flavour or juiciness.
Limes will last at room temperature for about a week and up to 6 weeks when refrigerated. If you’re only intending on using limes for their juice you can also try freezing them, however, this will compromise the texture of the fruit’s flesh. Frozen limes are best when used within 6 to 12 months.
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