Silly Food Fact
Does a lime a day keep the doctor away? Back in the 1800s, British sailors thought so! They were required to eat citrus fruits in order to prevent scurvy—a serious disease causing tiredness, muscle aches, rashes, and bleeding gums. This disease is a result of vitamin C deficiency, which is found in foods like limes, lemons, oranges, kiwi, and many other fruits and vegetables. Limes were the cheapest option and more readily available than lemons. It is said that British sailors were eventually nicknamed “limeys”!
Why Our Bodies Love Them
Vitamin C was the key component of combating scurvy, and limes are a good source of this immune-strengthening vitamin. One lime contains about 20 calories and 1/3 of the RDA for vitamin C. Limes contain no fat and no cholesterol. They’re also a good source of fiber and phytochemicals, which may help fight cancer and other diseases. If you’re watching your sodium intake, lime juice can be a tangy alternative to seasonings with a high salt content.
Care and Picking
There are two types of limes: Persian Limes (year-round in stores) and Key Limes (seasonal and traditionally from the Florida Keys). Persian limes are dominant because they’re easier to grow and ship. Key limes are smaller, have a stronger flavor, have a thinner rind, and they grow on thorny trees. If you’re making Key Lime pie, make sure to use authentic Florida key limes! To grow your own limes, a dwarf citrus tree might be perfect. They don’t take up much space and can be moved inside in the winter if you live in a cooler climate.
Tips and Warnings
Limes are delicious in sorbets, beverages, marinades, and jams. Choose heavy limes with smooth, shiny skin. Avoid any that have soft spots or look shriveled. When refrigerated, limes can last several weeks but the flavor will diminish over time. Lime juice, as well as grated lime zest, can be frozen for later use. Ice cube trays work great to freeze juice—simply pop out a juice cube to enhance the flavor of anything from fish to tea.