A lime (from French lime, from Arabic līma, from Persian līmū, "lemon") is a hybrid citrus fruit, which is typically round, lime green, 3–6 centimetres (1.2–2.4 in) in diameter, and containing acidic juice vesicles. 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. Plants with fruit called "limes" have diverse genetic origins; limes do not form a monophyletic group.
Plants known as "lime"
- Australian limes (former Microcitrus and Eremocitrus)
- Kaffir lime (Citrus hystrix); also called a kieffer lime, makrut, or magrood; a papeda relative.
- Key lime (Citrus aurantifolia=Citrus micrantha x Citrus medica); also called Mexican, West Indian, or bartender's lime.
- Musk lime (Citrofortunella mitis), a kumquat hybrid
- Persian lime (Citrus x latifolia), also called Tahiti or Bearss lime. Developed in California, this is the commonplace lime.
- Rangpur lime (Mandarin lime, lemandarin), a mandarin orange – rough lemon hybrid
- Spanish lime (Melicoccus bijugatus); also called mamoncillo, mamón, ginep, quenepa, or limoncillo); not a citrus.
- Sweet lime etc. (Citrus limetta etc.); assorted citrus hybrids) including varieties called sweet lemon, sweet limetta or Mediterranean sweet lemon, lumia, Indian or Palestinian sweet lime.
- Wild lime (Adelia ricinella); not a citrus.
- Wild lime (Zanthoxylum fagara); not a citrus.
- Limequat (lime × kumquat)
The tree species known in Britain as lime trees (Tilia sp.), called linden in other dialects of English, are broadleaf temperate plants, 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. 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.
Limes have higher contents of sugars and acids than do lemons.
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, whole and in cross section
|Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)|
|Energy||126 kJ (30 kcal)|
|Dietary fiber||2.8 g|
|Pantothenic acid (B5)||
|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.
Phytochemicals and research
When human skin is exposed to ultraviolet light after contact with lime peel or juice, 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 and other phototoxic coumarins in limes. The main coumarin in limes is limettin which has manifold higher content in peels than in pulp. Persian limes have a higher content of coumarins and potentially greater phototoxicity than do Key limes.
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 five lemon and lime producers – 2012|
|People's Republic of China||2,300,000F|
^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ F = FAO estimate
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Lime.|
- Lime production in Mexico
- List of citrus fruits
- List of lime cultivars
- List of culinary fruits varieties
- Pickled lime
- American Heritage Dictionary
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