By Patrick Gallagher
In times like these, you need to get all you can from this green little citrus. With lime prices on the rise, and no end in sight, consumers need to be smart about what they buy at the grocery store. No one wants to pay top dollar for a crappy lime. In this article, you will become a more enlightened consumer, and learn how to squeeze the most out of this limepocalypse.
Limes are typically sold by the fruit, not by weight or any other metric — use this to your advantage. Most uses for the lime require its juices, so picking out a lime with optimal ripeness and juice is a definite. Ostensibly, larger limes contain more juice, so always opt for those over smaller ones. Before selecting a lime, squeeze it and make sure it is not especially firm. While firm limes can be juiced, it will be harder and not necessarily worth it. A hard lime has no guarantee for plenty of juice. On the other hand, a lime that is soft and almost squishy should provide an excellent amount.
Most recognize a lime by its bright green color, but limes of optimal ripeness actually have a bit of yellow in them. Partially-yellow limes are the perfect ripeness to be juiced, so be on the lookout for them. Smell can also be indicative of ripeness. As odd as it sounds, smelling a lime for its familiar fragrance is also a test for a good lime. If it has a subtle citrus aroma, it’s good. A lime that doesn’t smell like anything doesn’t deserve to be in your kitchen. You’re better than that.
Now that you have bought an optimal batch of limes, what remains is another challenge in and of itself: juicing. Juicing a lime may not look very difficult, and I’ll admit, it’s not. Most people find it is satisfactory to cut the lime in half and squeeze it into their food or drink. However, with limes as pricey as they are now, it’s practically a sin to waste any drop of juice. With these techniques, you can make sure to get the most juice out of your limes. If you went through all the trouble of selecting the juiciest limes, you may as well reap what you harvested.
One technique is called rolling. Simply roll the lime on your kitchen counter forcefully until it is extremely soft to the touch. This way, all of the membranes within the fruit have broken, and the juice is much easier to squeeze out. In fact, be mindful of slicing the lime after this, since juice tends to practically seep out of a well-rolled lime.
Other techniques include microwaving or simply using an electric juicer. Keep in mind to only microwave for less than 30 seconds — prolonged exposure to microwaves causes limes to burst out in volcanic, acidic fury. This phenomenon, while extremely interesting, is not for the frail of heart or weak of wallet, as watching lime juice go to waste in this economy is essentially settling for bankruptcy.
And there you have it, folks. A tutorial on how to make the best of your lime. The juicing techniques and ripeness tests can also be applied to small citrus such as lemons. Now that you have your lime juice, you need to find some recipes for it. Because of their astounding sour and bitter taste, limes have found their way into cuisines around the world. Next week, I will cover some dishes where limes are a culinary necessity, so that you, the well-informed lime consumer, can transform into a well-informed lime chef.