Lime fruits earn their way into innumerable foods and beverages as a flavoring agent, and lime essential oils are used in the formulation of many household products. Both commonly recognized lime tree species — Tahitian limes (Citrus latifoila) along with Mexican limes (Citrus aurantifolia) — are hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) plant hardiness zones 9 through 11. One tree of species will produce more vegetables than a family could ever require, however lime trees are curious specimens to develop nonetheless, rich with fascinating botanical facts.
Meaning of Names
Several names are used interchangeably when describing limes, but two distinct kinds of limes exist. Tahitian limes are so-called since they initially came to California through Tahiti, but they are considered to have originated in the Middle East — the reason that they are also called Persian limes. In nurseries, they commonly are found with the label “Bearss” limes, though “Bearss” isn’t recognized by botanists as a distinct cultivar. Mexican limes are also referred to as West Indian limes and Key limes, as a reference to their first U.S. commercial plantings in the Florida Keys.
Different Limes for Different Uses
The small, across lime fruits commonly found in grocery shops and used extensively by bartenders are in the Mexican variety of lime tree. The fruits are picked green when they are between 1 and 2 inches in diameter, and they have a sharper, more acidic flavor than Tahitian lime fruits. Tahitian lime fruits are the size and shape of lemon vegetables and usually are picked when yellow. They seldom are found on grocery store shelves since they are so easily confused with lemons, however they are processed into lime goods, such as the filling for Key lime pie.
Most varieties of trees which produce edible fruits would be propagated by cuttings grafted onto the roots of another selection. That technique is a form of clonal propagation, meaning that the seed of a resulting tree’s fruits won’t develop a tree which produces an identical fruit. In reality, the resulting fruit is typically of inferior quality. Limes, however, are one of the few fruit trees which develop true-to-seed, which makes them simple to spread at home. Cuttings can also be employed to spread lime trees, but this method tends to produce less vigorous trees than those from other methods.
Pies and beverages might come to mind when Americans think of utilizing lime fruits in the kitchen, however, other civilizations have found many more applications for your fruits. As an instance, the intense concentration of citric acid in lime fruits triggers an enzymatic reaction with raw fish, which makes it appear as though it was cooked. It’s this land, and the lime flavor, that makes possible the Latin American chicken dish ceviche. The Kaffir or even Kieffer lime (Citrus hystrix) is another sort of lime that’s employed in cultural cuisine. It’s the tree’s leaves, however, which are used to impart a tangy flavor in southeast Asian soups and curries. Kaffir lime trees are hardy in USDA zones 9 through 10, but their fruits are inedible and covered with bumpy protrusions.