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A lime (from Arabic and French lim) is a citrus fruit, which is typically round, green, 3–6 centimetres (1.2–2.4 in) in diameter, and containing sour (acidic) pulp. There are several species of citrus trees whose fruits are called limes, including the Key lime (Citrus aurantifolia), Persian lime, kaffir lime, and desert lime. Limes are an excellent source of vitamin C, and are often used to accent the flavours of foods and beverages. They are grown year-round in tropical climates and are usually smaller and less sour than lemons, although varieties may differ in sugar and acidic content.
Plants known as "lime"
- Australian limes
- Kaffir lime (Citrus hystrix) (kieffer lime; makrut, or magrood)
- Key lime (Citrus aurantifolia) (Mexican, West Indian, or bartender's lime)
- Musk lime (Citrofortunella mitis)
- Persian lime (Citrus x latifolia) (Tahiti or Bearss lime)
- Rangpur lime (Mandarin lime), a mandarin orange - lemon hybrid
- Spanish lime (Melicoccus bijugatus) (mamoncillo, mamón, ginep, quenepa, or limoncillo) (not a citrus)
- Sweet lime (Citrus limetta) (sweet limetta, Mediterranean sweet lemon)
- Wild lime (Adelia ricinella)
- Limequat (lime × kumquat)
The tree known in Britain as the lime tree (Tilia sp.), called the linden in other dialects of English, is a broadleaf temperate plant unrelated to the citrus fruits.
To prevent scurvy during the 19th century, British sailors were issued a daily allowance of citrus, such as lemon, and later switched to lime, which was not as effective at preventing the nutritional deficiency disorder but was easier to obtain in Britain's Caribbean colonies (it was later discovered that the greater effectiveness of lemons derived from the four-fold higher quantities of vitamin C contained in lemon juice compared to the West Indian limes used by the British). 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.
Lime juice may be squeezed from fresh limes, or purchased in bottles in both unsweetened and sweetened varieties. Lime juice is used to make limeade, and as an ingredient (typically as sour mix) in many cocktails.
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. It is also used for its pickling properties in ceviche. Some guacamole recipes call for lime juice.
The use of dried limes (called black lime or loomi) as a flavouring is typical of Persian cuisine and Iraqi cuisine, as well as in Gulf-style baharat (a spice mixture that is also called kabsa or kebsa).
Lime is an ingredient in several highball cocktails, often based on gin, such as gin and tonic, the gimlet and the Rickey. Freshly squeezed lime juice is also considered a key ingredient in margaritas, although sometimes lemon juice is substituted.
Health effects and research
Lime fruits, in cross section and whole
|Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)|
|Energy||126 kJ (30 kcal)|
|Dietary fiber||2.8 g|
|Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient Database
As compared to lemons, limes contain less vitamin C, but the amount is still an excellent source, providing 35% of the Daily Value per 100 g serving (right table). Limes are a good source of dietary fiber and contain numerous other nutrients in small quantities (right table).
Phytochemicals and research
When human skin is exposed to ultraviolet light after lime juice contact, a reaction known as phytophotodermatitis can occur, which can cause darkening of the skin, swelling or blistering. Bartenders handling limes and other citrus fruits when preparing cocktails may develop phytophotodermatitis due to the high concentration of furocoumarins in limes. The main furanocoumarin in limes is lemittin.
China, India and Mexico, together having about 43% of the world's overall lemon and lime output, top the production list for 2012, followed by Argentina and Brazil (table below).
|Top ten lemon and lime producers — 2012|
|People's Republic of China||2,300,000F|
^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ F = FAO estimate
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Lime.|
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