Limes 101: Tips for use of this flavorful citrus

Nutrition: Limes offer a lot of flavor without many calories. A 2-inch fruit contains about 20 calories. Very high in vitamin C, limes also are a source of calcium, iron and copper.

Selection: Choose limes with bright color (yellow or green) and smooth skin. Fruit should feel firm and heavy for its size (that’s an indicator of high juice content). Avoid fruit with cracks, blemishes or bruises or showing any signs of decay. Also avoid fruit that looks dry, shriveled or feels light (those are signs of age). Small brown spots on the skin (called sun scald) are OK; they don’t effect the taste of the juice.

Storage: Limes can be kept at room temperature or in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator for up to 10 days without loss of quality. The fruit will look fresh for several weeks, but gradually loses flavor and firmness. Lime skin develops pits as it ages, indicating the fruit is past its prime.

Freeze whole or sliced: Limes may be frozen whole and stored for up to a year, then defrosted for later use in recipes. To freeze slices, spread cut limes on a cookie sheet until solid, then transfer to a resealable plastic bag. (Note: Defrosted fruit or slices may feel mushy, but the juice and zest tastes fine.)

Preparation: Use limes like you would lemons in both sweet and savory dishes as well as drinks. Avoid using aluminum pans or utensils when cooking with or preparing limes. Lime’s high acid content reacts with aluminum and can turn the juice gray.

Save juice for later: To freeze lime juice, squeeze fruit and pour juice into an ice cube tray, then freeze. When frozen, transfer these lime cubes to a resealable plastic bag. Each cube holds 2 tablespoons of frozen juice. Besides use in recipes, these frozen lime cubes work great in margaritas. Grated and bagged, lime zest also can be frozen for later use.

Debbie Arrington