A lime is a hybrid citrus fruit.
There are several species of citrus trees whose fruits are called limes, including the Persian lime, Key lime, kaffir lime, and desert lime.
Although the precise origin is uncertain, wild limes are believed to have first grown in Indonesia or Southeast Asia.
Arab traders brought lime trees back from their journey to Asia and introduced them into Egypt and Northern Africa around the 10th century.
Limes were introduced to the western Mediterranean countries by returning Crusaders in the 12th and 13th centuries.
Christopher Columbus took citrus seeds, probably including limes, to the West Indies on his second voyage in 1493, and the trees soon became widely distributed in the West Indies, Mexico, and Florida.
The English word “lime” was derived, via Spanish then French, from the Arabic word līma (Persian: limu).
The tree seldom grows more than 5 meters (16 feet) high and if not pruned becomes shrublike. Its branches spread and are irregular, with short stiff twigs and small sharp thorns.
The leaves are ovate, 2.5–9 cm (1–3.5 in) long, glossy, light or dark green colored.
The flowers are white and about 2.5 cm (1 in) in diameter. Flowers and fruit appear throughout the year, but are most abundant from May to September in the Northern Hemisphere.
The fruit is usually about 3–6 centimeters (1.2–2.4 inches) in diameter, oval to nearly globular in shape, the peel is thin and greenish yellow when the fruit is ripe.
The pulp is tender, juicy, yellowish green in color, and decidedly acid.
Raw limes are 88% water, 10% carbohydrates and less than 1% each of fat and protein.
Limes have higher contents of sugars and acids than lemons do.
The health benefits of lime are due to its many nutritious elements like vitamin C, vitamin B6, vitamin A, vitamin E, folate, niacin thiamin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, copper, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc, phosphorus and protein. Lime also contains flavonoids, which are composites that contain antioxidant and cancer fighting properties. It helps prevent diabetes, constipation, high blood pressure, fever, indigestion, as well as improve the skin, hair, and teeth.
Combine freshly squeezed lime juice, evaporated cane juice and either plain or sparkling water to make limeade.
Squeeze some lime juice onto an avocado quarter and eat as is.
In cooking, lime is valued both for the acidity of its juice and the floral aroma of its zest. It is a common ingredient in authentic Mexican, Vietnamese and Thai dishes.
Lime soup is a traditional dish from the Mexican state of Yucatan.
Lime pickles are an integral part of Indian cuisine. They are sometimes eaten alone, as a snack. They are also an ingredient in the preparation of some sweet relishes.
Key lime gives the character flavoring to the American dessert known as Key lime pie.
In Australia, desert lime is used for making marmalade.
All well-made cocktails are meant to bring out many different flavors on your palate. Just think about some of the best cocktails you’ve had — many have a punch of sour, which adds a deep, bright flavor. The secret? Often lime juice — it’s not just a garnish on the rim of the glass. Without lime, some of the most popular and classic cocktails would fall flat (lime juice is key in the margarita, the Mojito and the gimlet). It helps balance a drink and downplay the strength of the alcohol, which usually means you end up drinking more in the end!
Lime extracts and lime essential oils are frequently used in perfumes, cleaning products, and aromatherapy.
Limes are available in the marketplace throughout the year, although they are usually in greater supply from mid-spring through mid-fall.
Limes can be kept out at room temperature where they will stay fresh for up to one week. It can be stored in the refrigerator crisper, wrapped in a loosely sealed plastic bag, where they will keep fresh for about 10-14 days.
India is the top producer of limes; it is followed by Mexico and China.
To prevent scurvy during the 19th century, British sailors were issued a daily allowance of citrus, such as lemon, and later switched to lime. The use of citrus was initially a closely guarded military secret, as scurvy was a common scourge of various national navies, and the ability to remain at sea for lengthy periods without contracting the disorder was a huge benefit for the military. The British sailor thus acquired the nickname, “Limey” because of their usage of limes.