Chances are, you associate limes with Latin America and the Caribbean, but these super food actually originated in Southeast Asia. It took centuries for them to spread westward from Asia to the Levant and Eastern Africa before making it to the Mediterranean and finally the New World. Arab traders brought limes to the Middle East back in the 10th century, but it took a while for the trees to adapt and thrive well, especially in the more desertic regions.
Nowadays limes are among a dozen of trees that are good to grow in the UAE, and compared to other citrus fruits they can withstand hot and humid conditions much better. Lime season in the UAE normally starts in mid-April and there are plenty of reasons you should not miss it! Wonderful for bringing out the flavor of other foods, a squeeze of lime or sprinkling of lime zest can make all the difference in a recipe, whether it’s a rich meat dish or decadent dessert. As a member of the powerful citrus family, the list of health benefits only continues to lengthen as researchers delve further into the science behind the fruit. Limes are incredibly rich in vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant vitamin known to boost immunity.
There are many ways to put limes to use, and here’s our top 3 picks:
1) Lime infused coconut water
Before or after a workout, or anytime you need something a little more thirst quenching than plain water, try mixing 2 cups of unsweetened coconut water with 3 cups of low sodium mineral water and ½ a cup of lime juice. You can add a tablespoon of raw honey for an extra boost of energy and lemongrass or mint for extra flavour.
2) Roasted carrots with lime zest and parsley
Lime zest isn’t the first thing most people think to put on their carrots, but once you try it, you’ll be hooked. Simply bake carrots with some grass-fed butter or extra virgin olive oil, sea salt, black pepper, smashed garlic cloves and lime zest. Just before serving add some chopped parsley.
3) Limu Omani
Wandering through the open markets of the Middle East, it’s impossible to miss these golf-ball size brown fruits. Easy to use to add a hearty and zesty flavour to soups and stews, you only have to prick them a few times before adding them to any cooking liquid. As broth/water passes through their internal chambers, they soften up and release all the flavor of their sun-dried zest and flesh. When it’s time to serve, they can be squeezed of their final juices and discarded. If you enjoy the unique flavour, you might want to experiment making your own limu omani. The process is pretty simple and all you have to do is boiling whole fresh limes in a salt brine before leaving them out to sun-dry for about a week.
7 more ways to use limes
1) The juice and zest are great in a butter cookie dough instead of vanilla extract.
2) Make lime butter and enjoy it over steamed or grilled corn.
3) Marinate chicken in lime juice with chopped garlic, ginger and soy.
4) Mix the juice with chopped mint and honey and toss it over sweet melon balls for a refreshing fruit salad.
5) Mix finely slices of limes with mineral sparkling water, sliced cucumbers and mint for a zero calories drink.
6) Bake fish fillets in aluminium foil packets with lime slices, capers and black pepper.
7) Wipe away garlic smells on your hands and your knives by rubbing a cut lime over them.
Bonus tip for juicing limes!
To extract the maximum amount of juice, make sure the limes are at room temperature, and firmly roll them back and forth under your palm a couple of times – that helps to break down some of the flesh’s fibres.