The same shape, but smaller than lemons, with a bright green, fairly smooth skin, limes are a highly aromatic fruit.
Limes are an important ingredient in Mexican, Indian, Latin American and South-East Asian cookery. Three main types are available: Tahitian, which is the largest, with the most acidic flavour; Mexican, slightly smaller, very aromatic, and with a particularly bright green skin; and Key lime, which have a paler skin, a high juice content and a strong flavour. Like lemons, limes are high in vitamin C.
All year round.
Choose the best
Look for unblemished, firm limes that feel heavy for their size as they will be the juiciest. If you intend to use the zest, buy them unwaxed (shops should state this clearly). If you can't find unwaxed limes, scrub the limes thoroughly before zesting.
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. Alternatively, microwave them for around 30 seconds, depending on the size of the lime - warming them up also helps them give up more juice.
In a perforated bag in the fridge (for a couple of weeks); in a fruit bowl (for around a week). Once cut, wrap in clingfilm and keep in the fridge for up to four days.
Use to make Key lime pie; salsas and curries; marinades for raw fish; add a wedge to a classic gin and tonic or use to make cocktails such as the margarita, caipirinha or mojito.