Mystery Ingredient: Sweet Limes

Sweet Limes 1

When I was in pre-school and kindergarten, my mom was “Chef Combo.” Once a month, she would come to my class and the “Chef” (a puppet) would introduce our class to basics of nutrition and new foods. This was always fun for all of my classmates, and as a result it made me very popular.

That early experience is part of what feeds my adventurous spirit with food even today. I will try anything, and like nothing better than discovering new ingredients. In fact, if you give me an ethnic market (of any ethnicity) I will inevitably emerge with new treasures for my kitchen.

Today’s find actually comes from my local grocery store, which stocks a very fine selection of produce. When things come into season, they will bring in fruits and vegetables that they don’t normally stock. This week they had bags of “Sweet Limes” for 99 cents a bag. I had never seen or heard of a sweet lime, but their delightful roundness and lovely pale yellow color with just a blush of green drew my attention. Plus, at that price I would buy just about anything.

As soon as I got home I called my husband into the kitchen.


“Look what I found!” I exclaimed as I thrust the red-mesh bag of pale yellow limes into his hands, “sweet limes.”

“Are they any good?” He was clearly less excited with my find than I was.

“I have no idea, but lets try them.” I was already pulling out a knife and the cutting board.

The limes have beautiful translucent pale yellow flesh and a lovely floral aroma that releases as soon as the knife breaks through the thin peel. They are lightly sweet with very little acidity. As a result, they don’t seem to have a lot of flavor, just a faint impression of citrus blossom and a slightly less pleasant astringent aftertaste that reminded me of the artificial citrus smell that they put in cleaning products. All in all, I was not overly impressed with the sweet limes, and I’ve had a hard time coming up with something to do with them that wouldn’t be better with a lemon, lime, orange, blood orange, or tangerine, all of which have more interesting flavors and more robust characters for cooking.

That being said, these limes are beautiful, so I took the opportunity to learn more about food photography by taking pictures of them.

Sweet Limes 2

sweet limes 4
They do have very delicate skin with very little pith, so I am considering candying the rind, in hopes of catching that lovely floral character.

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7 Comments

Filed under Food, Gourmet food, Stories, Uncategorized

7 responses to “Mystery Ingredient: Sweet Limes

  1. I love sweet limes! Yet they are so mild as to limit their usefulness, at least as a citrus fruit. I need to play with them more this winter. Thanks for the reminder!

  2. Thanks so much for being my first commenter (commentator?) I’m jealous of all of the lovely produce you have access to in San Fransico. Here in Durham, NC we have a weekly farmer’s market, but other than that we are totally reliant on grocery stores. Also, because southerners tend to cook their vegetables to a second death with the addition of sugar and fatback, the quality is not always the greatest.

    I’m trying to decide whether the sweet limes would make an interesting counterpoint to blood oranges, or if they would get completely lost.

  3. mac

    I am going to try to use them in a vin de limettier doux, A fortified wine. In the past I have made others with grapefruit and meyer lemmons traditional made with bitter oranges vin de orange.

  4. Hey, cool tips. I’ll buy a glass of beer to the person from that chat who told me to visit your blog 🙂

  5. would love to hear if anybody knows about the health benefits of eating sweet limes. there is so little on the web that I can find about them

  6. We grow the sweet limes commercially in Southern California. Most of our customers are wholesalers who sell mainly into the Hispanic, Persian and Indian communities. We put a video clip on youtube if interested in more information about how we pack them.

  7. I make a lemon lime soda with mine. 2 lemons, 2 sweet limes, 1 cup of sugar and 1/4 teaspoon of bread yeast. put in 1/2 gal. plastic container. then fill with water almost to the top. Leave out 1/2 -2 days depending on the season and then refrigerate. You have a sparkling lemon lime drink that is very refreshing. The sweet limes are very juicy and I get lots on my tree. The lemons add a little bit.

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